I was recently asked to do a workshop for a corporate group. In preparation for the event I was asked to submit my slides.
I told the organizer that I didn’t have any.
Somewhat confused, the organizer asked again, and when she finally realized I was serious she let it go, but her concern was evident.
A few days later I stood up in front of her group. I asked that the screen be retracted. The audience members looked at each other.
“Yes, that’s right. No slides.”
And they applauded. Loud and long.
We then proceeded to have a fun, interactive and engaging learning event. Everyone participated. The questions were thoughtful. The energy was great. They all had clear and useful actions they committed to taking afterward.
Now I’m not saying that the high level of engagement was JUST because I had no slides. If the workshop I was running wasn’t interesting and useful, I would have lost them.
But I am saying that I got their attention right from the outset because I showed up differently.
And I held it at least in part because they HAD to engage in order to learn the content. I wasn’t screenfeeding (the corporate equivalent to “spoon-feeding” – I just made it up) it to them.
Mostly, they were grateful to be experiencing something different than what they see all day every day.
The overuse of slides in meetings is epidemic, and is getting in the way of the kinds of interactions that might actually incite creativity, spark change and invite debate.
Next time you’re going up in front of a group, think about the story you want to tell and the decisions you’re asking for, and consider whether you could approach your time in the spotlight differently.
I promise that at the very least you’ll get some attention.