Carmen Taran: Managing Partner at Rexi Media. In the business for almost two decades. Author of the book - Better Beginnings.
Do you remember your first kiss? Most probably yes! People remember first and lasts. How do we recreate the "You had me at hello" syndrome?
Most online training and presentations are boring. And the problem is not that bad things happen, but really nothing happens. Most people multi-task at the time they're in an online training. There's so much information around people now -- we find it difficult to capture people's attention for full hours.
Chase Manhattan has reduced their ATM waiting time by 18 seconds. That says a lot about people's value for time.
So how do we create better beginnings -- as juicy as the first kiss?
Create AnticipationHockey players run towards a puck. We love to look towards a future state. We enjoy anticipating what'll happen next. Newscasters do this very well -- "What will Apple unveil next? All of this and more at 10PM!"
Easy technique: Use a key phrase. "At last" a software that improves productivity. "Imagine" what it would be like to disconnect from the brain chatter. This program will open a "new" world for you.
Promise a reward -- for example a freebie you give away during the session.
There is order underneath chaos -- if you can promise to reduce complexity, you'll have people's attention. People want to demistify complicated things.
Don't be predictable. Include a touch of unpredictability. Keep them guessing what'll happen next. For example, you promise how something will work in the audience's specific situation. That way people will keep waiting to get that hugely contextualised session.
What kills anticipation at the beginning of a training program?
A narcisstic beginning -- presenters that begin with boasts about themselves or their company. Don't focus on your ego. Reserve the elements of building credibility for later. Use the unforgiving first minute to gain people's attention. Think about TV commercials, Reader's Digest, movie teasers. Teaching is the act of 'giving' - focus on what people want to know.
IncongruityTaking your audience on one path and them leaving them on a concept that they wouldn't expect. Show how reality is incongruent to what they would naturally think. Surprise facts help do this.
For example what did the first coin operated vending machine dispense?
How many countries are there in the world?
What's the difference between nerd, geek and dork?
Do some research! :-)
What's the best time to work late?
Research says Tuesday nights between 6-9
What such incongruent stuff can you share in the beginning of your sessions? Think of the crazy statistic that people will never imagine!
ParticipationOne way Carmen demonstrated -- a contest to win the free book she promised. We live in the era of participation. People want to interact with everything. Tivo for example!
- Asking a question! Chat is your best friend. The more you do, the more you engage people. The moment you ask a question, the brain is programmed to answer. So that means people are thinking immediately. Eg: Atlantic used to hide questions in muffins. These were really intriguing questions and Atlantic's circulation increased hugely during this time.
- Try an interactive game: Flashcom guru has multiple such games that you can use within Adobe Connect Pro. Make sure that its linked to the content you're presenting.
Visual ThinkingThe power of visuals is quite well known -- Presentation Zen.
Edge, Energy, Emotion: You have people's attention when your visuals actually use all three of these factors. Use images that are striking and create the right energies (post modern room vs clutter) When you create just the right visual, you create the right kind of emotion.
This way you:
- save time
- are more memorable
- keep people focussed
"Good design is design that makes you want to lick the screen."
You cannot go wrong with red. Red captures attention and triggers a whole bunch of emotions! But again go with what your audience may like.
Sometimes color can be a distraction. Consider every so often turning things to black and white and see if the meaning changes.
Abstract concepts -- try visualising those with symbolism. For example barb wire for alienation. Try to brainstorm different ways to depict a certain topic.
Remember, "Any good design takes three eye movements or less."
Vocal VarietyThere's a huge amount of power in your voice. Monotones are always boring. Sound natural, passionate and friendly.
As virtual presenters, we don't have the luxury of body language and beautiful facial expressions. We're addressing people who are multitasking. The voice is a transitory medium - we have only one chance to connect with people. We delete voice mails after listening to it for 10 seconds. No one has the time to listen to something very long.
Add more melody and pitch to your voice. Modulate your voice and don't be predictable. Doesn't matter if you go up or down -- its important you change your tone. Try highlighting adjectives and adverbs in your speech and change your tone by stressing those. That creates a great radio announcer effect.
The ear listens more when there's variety. Use your host, co-present your sessions if need be.
Practice by picking an everyday phrase and say it with various emotions.