Week 036 – Experiment – Chapter 09

Do you truly want to understand your listeners? Do you want to learn something and inspire your audience in the process? Then try giving a “anti-presentation.” This will focus on your customer’s questions instead of your opinions. A guide for contemporaries who like to experiment.

Preparation and Invitation

Get your participants in the right mood by sending written invitations. Before you do this, you should think about what kind of questions you want to answer with the presentation. Your invitation will contain a list of sample questions.

A written invitation could look like this:

Dear X,

If you have a look at your calendar, you will find a meeting on ___________ from ___ to ____. This meeting will be about “________” and it’s my goal to provide reliable information about the topic and to answer all of your questions as well.

Participants of earlier presentations raised the following questions:

– List of
– questions

– At least 5
– at the most 25

5 minutes of preparation will improve the outcome of our meeting significantly. Therefore I ask you to take some notes and have them with you at the meeting.

It’s important that you pose real questions, no bullet points. That might sound unfamiliar but you will see that this kind of preparation will help you to immerse the topic.

I’m looking forward to our meeting and hope for an entertaining and informative afternoon.

Yours sincerely


Anti-Presentation © Fotolia 2015 / WavebreakMediaMicro

Anti-Presentation © Fotolia 2015 / WavebreakMediaMicro

At the beginning of your “anti-presentation”, you then write down and visualize the questions of your participants. You may also want to inquire into their objectives.

Make sure you only accept questions that can actually be answered. If someone asks a very general question such as, “How do we solve our archiving problem?” then you can guide the questioner to a more a precise inquiry. The question, “What can we do to archive an average of 400 outgoing invoices per day?” is better suited to a presentation.

Precise questions that are to complex can be marked and you can explain tot he client that you will address these questions in a written response. That should satisfy the person concerned.

The “anti-presentation” is designed to understand first and to be understood second. You can win people over more readily if you’re not actually trying to persuade them.

Presentation Techniques

Many books have been written on the subject of giving presentations. The following checklist will be useful:

Use images and metaphors. A picture speaks louder than words. Using metaphors and large images on slides help to commit your message to memory.

Keep effects and gimmicks to a minimum. Letter floating onto a screen will get distracting very quickly.

Drop the hide-and-seek. Even worse than overblown effects are those presentations that gradually let the text fade in. If you do this, nobody will be listening to what you’re saying; they will just be awaiting the next line to appear. Show the entire slide at once! If you’re taking an step-by-step approach, make sure to have an entire slide for each step.

Use large font and few words. Reduce the words per slide by 50 percent. Afterwards, cut the words by half again. You will undoubtedly see an improvement.

Do you deliver a sound performance? Every presentation thrives on your voice, body language and performance. Are you confident in your body language? If you have doubts then I can recommend an expert colleague.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you’re presenting. What’s more important is how you’re presenting it. Keep in mind that your audience is hearing your presentation for the first time today!

Another tip: Organize salient points of reference. Use a flip chart or a bulletin board as an outline. Alternate between the main screen and the outline.

The Conclusion

Imagine that at the end of your “anti-presentation” all of your client’s questions have been answered and all objectives have been reached. Who would not want to round it off with a flourish by saying something like: “Now that we’ve shown that our solution can answer all of your questions…”

The psychological effect of this move is tremendous:

  • You stir your audience members from their passive attitude and glean their questions and goals. And those who don’t ask cannot later say that there are still “unanswered questions.
  • The discussion remains engaging! If you confine yourself to dealing only with the questions that are being asked, you sustain the attention of your audience.
  • You will be remembered. It is unlikely that your customer will have experienced a presentation of this kind and caliber before. You will have positioned yourself as a consummate supplier.

This concludes the chapter on the “anti-presentation.” If you manage to implement those elements that are important to you, you will reap the following benefits:

  • You will understand what makes your clients tick.
  • You will be able to distinguish between different requirements. Given that many of your listeners will write their questions largely independently of one another, you will get a clear picture of their various perspectives and levels of knowledge.
  • You will gain knowledge in the process, because you will be assimilating the participants’ questions along the way. And you will broaden your perspective on the thoughts and questions of potential customers.


See you next week,
Stephan Heinrich