This post was written by Andrew McLennan-Murray.

ILTA 2013 – Amidst a sea of sessions geared toward niche legal technology topics, one title stood out to me on the ILTA agenda. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dux Raymond Sy, the presenter slated for an hour and a half session: 5 Steps to Delivering Dynamic Presentations – I wondered how much could you teach a technology professional about improving their presentation style in such a short time? I entered the room, sat down, and started to pull out my iPad when I was interrupted by a well dressed smiling man sporting a pink bow tie. He held out his hand, looked at my name tag and said “Hi Andrew, I’m Dux, I’ll be presenting today.” I was immediately impressed. It’s not often a speaker takes the time to walk around the room introducing himself personally to people just as a session is about to begin. This turned out to be one of the first techniques he introduced for delivering an excellent presentation.

Dux went on, in a highly entertaining and engaging way, to introduce his 5 steps to delivering dynamic presentations. He listed these as: Intentional Preparation, Proactive Opening, Interactive Delivery, Facilitate Engagement, and Motivational Closing. Here are my takeaways from each one.

I. Intentional Preparation

The presenter emphasized the importance of preparing for your presentation. He recommended creating a catchy abstract with a short and relevant title as a good first step in preparing. He said that it didn’t really matter what the length, size, and audience was for your presentation – creating an abstract allowed you to both organize your thoughts on your topic as well as create a good marketing tool for your talk. He mentioned it might be a good idea to leverage social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, perhaps Facebook) to create a buzz about your presentation and generate interest in attending the event. Finally, he said it is a good idea to do a dry run for your presentation. Show up 45 minutes before, check out the venue, and make sure there aren’t any surprises.

II. Proactive Opening

Dux made a few suggestions for creating a proactive opening for your talk. Greeting people (which I’d witnessed first hand), playing music, kicking off your presentation with an interesting hook and engaging in casual conversation were amongst the tips he gave. What stood out to me about this step was Dux described the presenter as a person who is actually a type of host. He said the goal was to make the audience feel at home. He asked us to imagine how we treat guests in our own home. Do we lecture them and make them feel inferior by introducing technical jargon? No, we should strive to make them feel comfortable using casual language and introducing interesting topics in an easy to understand manner. This is the way you should treat your audience, Dux suggested.

III. Interactive Delivery

The step most crucial to avoiding audience snoozing is to keep your presentation somewhat interactive. Dux suggested going no more than 8-10 minutes without interacting with at least one audience member. He introduced some ways of driving audience interaction: asking questions, calling for an audience participant, asking people to stand up. Other ways of spicing up the presentation including staying mobile as a presenter (walking around the room and looking at different people) and sharing personal stories and experiences.

IV. Facilitate Engagement

The largest component of this step consisted of Dux showing a live demo of Microsoft SharePoint. I should mention that many of his anecdotes included information on SharePoint features that I think any legal technology professional would find interesting. Dux suggested creating a poll as another way to facilitate engagement. He also mentioned exploiting social tools again – this time showing that he had automated PowerPoint to send tweets out on his behalf as he proceeded through each slide (impressive!).

V. Motivational Closing

Finally, the presenter described techniques for constructing a motivational closing to your dynamic presentation. Throughout his presentation he made references to psychology studies that were done on human learning. He emphasized that repetition was a key ingredient to information retention. Thus, summarizing your presentation is an essential part of a good closing. For Dux’s own closing, he went out with a bang. He guided everyone in the room through dancing the Gangnam Style dance while playing the music video on the big screen. It was a fun ending, and a good final lesson for a great session!

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