Involve your audience and make your presentation an inspiring experience!

I was enjoying a one-week holiday in the Provence in Southern France where I was visiting the Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux, an underground quarry inviting the visitors for a multimedia journey on “Gauguin, Van Gogh, the Painters of Colour”.

This is a multimedia show in a special place. The 14m high stonewalls, pillars and even the floors served as screens. And as spectator you are moving through the presentation.

My first feeling was confusion. I lost orientation. Where am I? What is happening here? All was moving around me and I first had to get an idea of the room. I saw famous Van Gogh’s paintings projected on the walls in front of me, behind me, all around me, on other visitors walking by. Gauguin’s flowers were on me. Then it was pitch dark again. The pictures changed fast then it went slow again, time to contemplate. Slowly I could enjoy the show, I was puzzled, amazed, impressed. I started moving around, experimenting with my position. Depending on where I stood I saw the presentation differently. And I became part of the screen myself.

The artistic wall show made me think about conference rooms. I recently experienced quite a flow of PowerPoint presentations. Incredible, but PowerPoint still seems the favourite way of presenting. Unfortunately lots of these PowerPoint presentations were of mixed quality (full of bullet points, overfilled with text and complicated models the presenter doesn’t find time to explain, too many slides etc.).

Is there anything in it we can take out of the colourful and lively stonewall for presentations in workshops, face-to-face meetings, and conferences?

I would definitely say yes.

  • The spectators’ view matters. Include the participants’ view, put it in the centre and design it from the participants’ perspective.
  • Give the presentation rhythm, fast sequences followed by quiet moments, the known followed by the surprise, the unexpected.
  • Involve the participants; make the presentation lively, an experience. Let them play an active role.

What is your experience with presentations?