Analytical Presentation Style-Great at Technical Presentations and Scientific Talks
Last week, I gave an overview of the four main presentation styles. This week, we will cover the strengths and weaknesses of the Analytical Presentation Style. This is the style of presenter that is more "indirect" and "logical". Just as a review, by indirect, we mean that this style of presenter will often be more detailed and thorough. By logical, we mean that this style will focus more on facts and data. You will find the style of presentation more frequently in certain industries. If you work in a scientific or technical industry, you will see this style of delivery quite frequently.
We will cover the other three styles, Energetic, Authoritative, and Empathetic, in a future session.
Strengths of the Analytical Presentation Style
DETAILS: As we mentioned on the last posting, the real strengths of this style are the details of the delivery. Natural Analytical styled presenters will be extremely thorough. As a result, the presentation will have a nice, orderly flow. It will also cover details and data that will explain the content in depth. In many cases, the Analytical presenter will feel a tremendous need to explain to the audience everything that he or she knows about the topic. So, it is always a good idea for the Analytical presenter to spend narrowing down the topic ahead of time.
CONTENT: Out of all of the presentation styles, the Analytical is most likely to have way more content to deliver than he or she could ever cover in the assigned time period. As a result, they will often have handouts, charts, and graphs to accompany their presentations.
HUMOR: Many of the most famous comedians are Analytical presenters. This style of presenter has a natural and dry sense of humor that can be very entertaining. Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Newhart, and Bob Hope were all Analytical presenters. Each of these comedians were so good at their craft, that they were popular among a number of different generations and popular for decades.
In fact, Bob Newhart described the analytical presenter well when he said, "Comedians are innately programmed to pick up oddities like mispronounced words, upside-down books on a shelf, and generally undetectable mistakes in everyday life."
Weaknesses of the Analytical Presenter
BORING: The absolute biggest weakness of the Analytical presenter is that they are often described as boring. The natural delivery of this style of presenter tends to be slow and methodical. As a result, this will be perceived as a lack of enthusiasm. One of the most famous caricatures of this style was Ben Stein playing the economics teacher in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Although, the character played is an exaggeration, Stein himself is an Analytical presenter. You can easily see the sense of humor that the Analytical presenter possesses in the clip.
OVERKILL: We sometimes jokingly say that this speaker thinks that a little data is good, a lot of data is better, and too much data is just right. Remember that audience members can really only focus on one thing at a time. So the more data that you deliver in a single sitting, the more overwhelmed the audience will become. Often, it is better to put your data into a handout that the more detail-oriented in the group can look over on their own. We sometimes feel that if we don't explain everything that we know about the topic in our presentation, then we have failed as a speaker. However, that is an unrealistic expectation. Remember to only cover the most important items that your audience needs to know, right now. You will have a better presentation.
OVER-ACADEMIC: The Analytical presenter will sometimes forget that good communication is a combination of both good content and an entertaining delivery. They focus so much on the data and the details, that they forget to make the presentation interesting. Captivating stories along with using analogies to reinforce your points will help. My Business Law professor in college used this technique. He was an extremely detailed presenter, ad the content was really dry as well. So, he intermixed real stories from his experience as an attorney to make the classes more interesting. He was actually one of my top three teachers in college.
TOO MUCH MATERIAL: This one can really backfire on you if you are not careful. People who fall into the Overkill category above will likely prepare way more content than can actually be delivered in the time frame allotted. The speaker will likely look at the clock as the presentation goes on and begin to panic. In order to fix the challenge, the speaker will often begin to skip important material or breeze through complicated steps. As a result, the audience leaves the presentation dazed and confused.
Five Key Things that a Analytical Presenter Can Do to Deliver a Better Technical Presentation.
Make Your Topic More Focused
Insert Stories and Examples
Remember that you can't realistically tell your audience every, single, thing that you know about your topic in a single sitting. Instead, look at your presentation from the audience's perspective. If you were sitting in the audience, what would be the most critical outcome or understanding from the presentation that would make the sitting through the presentation worth while? Once you determine that, make that main outcome your topic.
For instance, if you are giving a quarterly financial report to the board of directors, don't make your presentation title "Quarterly Report." Instead, ask yourself, "What is the most critical financial outcome from this quarter that the board would be most interested in?" Keep in mind that they will receive a written document with the entire report. Your presentation should just highlight the most important information. If they want to know more of the details, they will ask you questions. A better topic would be, "Shareholder Equity Increased 2.1% This Quarter." Thousands of transactions occurred during the quarter. Trying to create a presentation that is a summary of ALL of those transactions would be impossible. However, if the board is most interested in shareholder equity, a presentation about the few transactions that occurred during the quarter that effected equity is a much easier presentation to both design and deliver.
The Analytical Style often thinks that data is the most important item in a presentation. However, one good story or example will allow the audience to comprehend an enormous amount of data without overwhelming the audience. Compare these two examples.
- Since our last sales meeting, the average number of RFIs has decreased slightly by 1.2%. Our sales reps responded to 980 requests in the previous report and only 970 in this period. Of those 970 requests, 165 went to contract. We closed 166 of these contracts in the last report. However, even though total contracts were down slightly, total revenue increased significantly. In the last report, our average revenue from contract was was $6490, but in this period, that average increased significantly to $7235 per contract. If you look on the screen, I have a graph that addresses each of these data points so that you can see their relationship.
- Although the total number of requests for information and number of contracts were similar in the last two pay period, revenue increased dramatically. Our sales team has been focusing on increasing the average revenue per contract by up-selling additional services, and it is beginning to pay off. For example, one of our sales reps, Joe, closed a big contract with J. P. Morgan last week that was repeat business. Since we already had a relationship with the buyer, Joe promoted a couple of new service lines to the client. They upped their order in this period from $21,000 to $27,000. That was just one contract. We had a few up-sell orders just like this, so the total revenue went up over 11% in this period. We are going to continue this policy to see if we have similar numbers in the next period.
The first example gives lots of data, but doesn't connect the data into a conclusion. It leaves the interpretation to the listener. The second example, however, is a much clearer way to deliver the data. The example give the listener the context of the data in a better way.
Use Your Humor to Entertain
Humor can be added in a lot of different ways. You can tell a self-deprecating story. Clever analogies can also work. I don't suggest that you tell jokes, but funny anecdotes often work really well. In one of my classes years ago, a young lady was talking about how data wasn't being shared between departments. She said that the data exchange was like when she and her boyfriend got their first checking account together. He was keeping track of his transactions. She was keeping track of her transactions. However, neither of them were keeping track of ALL of the transactions. Before long they had a mess. She said that the tow departments doing their own thing without communicating with the other group was causing a similar challenge. She had the whole class laughing.
Give Your Data in a Handout
If you have a lot of data, give the audience a handout. Don't try to cover all of the data in a slideshow. I don't care how good you are at delivering information, if you have too much data, your delivery will be boring.
Speed Up Your Delivery
One of the easiest ways to improve your delivery is to just speak a little faster. Typically, the Analytical presenter will often speak fairly slowly. Just speak and move a little faster than normal, and your audience will see that speed as energy and enthusiasm. One of my early presentation coaches used to tell me, "Present like your double-parked." (Keep in mind, this is a tip for the Analytical speaker. If you are more of an Authoritative speaker or Energetic speaker, don't speed up. You talk fast already.) I know this goes against conventional wisdom, but it is one of the most important things that the Analytical speaker can do to improve performance.
What If I Have a Different Style of Speaking, But I'm Delivering the Presentation to an Analytical Audience?
A couple of decades ago, I was asked to be a guest speaker at the Petroleum Accountants Association. I was introduced, and there was absolutely no applause. I began speaking, and I looked out at the audience, and the entire group was stoic. No smiles were seen anywhere. I was a little concerned, because I was used to interacting with my audiences. I was used to having my audiences laughing and having fun within minutes of my start. I took me the better part of 30 minutes to get the group loosened up. When I finished, I got a huge round of applause, and no less than a dozen of the participants rushed to me after the speech. Each of them was asking if I could come speak at their companies. I was so confused. This speech was, at best, mediocre compared to most of my keynotes. To them, though, I was a superstar.
I didn't realize until later, but group loved my delivery, because I was giving them something that most other speakers to the association wouldn't. The culture of the group was extremely analytical. They were used to presentations with 120 slides and 15 bullets on each slide. They were used to slow and methodical deliveries. So, when I stood up with just a single slide, just a few well designed bullets, lots of stories, and quite a bit of humor, they loved it.
The main take away here is that you don't have to overturn their cart. You just have to be a little better than what they are used to, and they will love you. Deliver your presentation with just a little more energy than they are used to. Cover just a few fewer slides. Tell just a few more stories. If you do, the Analytical audience will love you!