4 methods that make for great and convincing presentations

von Marion Ehmann

Use pictures and other visuals to illustrate your points This spring I listened to Prof. Knut Kaasen of the Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law speak about construction contracts for the oil industry. Since these are the basis for huge offshore and onshore development projects, they need to regulate how to handle necessary changes in a project. Such mechanisms are called variation orders. When Prof. Kaasen spoke about those, a picture of a totem pole from northwestern Native Americans appeared on the screen. A what?? Prof. Kaasen used this picture to illustrate the great importance of variation order mechanisms for this type of contract: They may seem sinister, but they cannot be disregarded in this particular culture and are therefore important. And a lot of experience and thought went into them. Prof. Kaasen used a surprising visual element to make his point about drafting a particular contract type stick with the audience. And it did: the variation orders were the most discussed topic after the presentation. Which pictures can you use to make your arguments really stick with the audience? Give brains a break and a change of gears I had asked a colleague to prepare a short lecture on dispute resolution in Germany for our Swedish colleagues. When he was halfway through his presentation, he paused and announced a session of “court trivia”: A short series of questions with multiple choice answers about e.g. the number of regional courts in Germany and how many cases they handled per year. People immediately and enthusiastically started guessing the right answers and were obviously delighted about this element in the presentation. The exact numbers and right answers did not matter. What mattered a great deal, however, were two things: The aha!-effects (“That many? I would not have thought that!”) and the change of gear this approach created in the listeners´ brains ...

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