Say No to Narcoleptic Attendees

You've been there: You're sitting down for your company's quarterly meeting, and judging from past experience, it's the perfect time to rearrange your Netflix queue, plan out your lunch in your head or just zone out. To make matters worse, presenters oftentimes hate the content as much as attendees do, setting the stage for a grueling snoozefest from both sides. 

As co-founder of Odyssey Teams, I've seen firsthand how to make corporate team building activities and events connect with attendees for over 25 years. With that in mind, here are a few simple, yet powerful principles that I and my team have relied on to break the mold of the standard, sterile presentation model.

Make It Meaningful

Make sure to frame your presentation or meeting through a philanthropic lens. If you work in sales, remind your team that their job fundamentally brings something valuable to people with a need. Regardless of the field or sector, show coworkers the power of doing something together to change lives and weave the experience into the benchmarks of the week, month or year. 

Blending presentation content with relationship and team-building goals is a movement that is expected to skyrocket in 2018 and implementing a service project element into that blend is the best way to simultaneously inspire and motivate your people, bringing to life the values of your organization and culture. 

Tell Boring to Beat it

We get it, you take your job and your company seriously. That doesn't mean, however, that presentations or meetings need to be dry and monotonous. 

Rather than droning on for hours about your company's financials, omit key figures in your presentation slides. Then put your crew into teams of five and give them a pop quiz to guess the missing numbers on a team answer sheet. As you review the financials, elicit guesses from the crowd and reward the team with the most correct answers. This can be a gift certificate to their favorite coffee shop or online retailer, for example.

When kept professional, a little friendly competition is an incredibly effective method to engage an audience. It also is instrumental in helping your coworkers retain information, which is why you're all there in the first place. 

Say No to Narcolepsy

We are territorial creatures. Just look around at your company's next meeting or presentation. People tend to sit in the same place, get comfy and proceed to check their social media -- or just check out completely. Break your team of this habit by removing tables in the room, leaving only chairs so that people can move and interact. 

One way to get people moving is to have a representative from each team line up within a designated quiz race area. Correct answers are then read aloud, with team representatives taking a step forward for every correct answer. The first representative to cross the finish line wins. 

Transforming presentations into active, rather than passive, activities will go a long way towards ensuring that the information you are trying to get across actually sticks. 

If You Don't Care, Don't Share

Sometimes presentations are doomed from the beginning. "I don't know how many times people start their presentation with, 'The next hour will not be very exciting but we wanted to share with you some of the boring information from last quarter,'" laments Hensley. 

Audiences tend to mirror the passion -- or apathy -- of presenters. If you don't care about your presentation, don't give it. Otherwise, the only thing you'll be guaranteeing is that your team's Instagram accounts will be checked and that everyone's time will be wasted. 

Circling back to the first principle, if you've forgotten about why your presentation matters remind yourself -- and your audience -- about what need your company is meeting and how that impacts the lives of individuals. Customer or client feedback can be a great way to reconnect the most veteran or blasé team member to your company's "why."

As long as companies continue to have meetings and give presentations, there will always be opportunities to either open eyes or cause them to glaze over. With these tips, you can help your coworkers connect with your presentations, and on a larger scale, you can empower, engage and illustrate how your company enriches the lives of others.

Lain Hensley is the president of innovation and delivery and cofounder of Odyssey Teams, Inc. For the past 20 years, Hensley has been part of the UCLA MBA Foundations of Leadership Program and a featured speaker at TEDx, delivering a powerful presentation on "The Power of Disruption." Hensley has also made guest appearances on Fox Business, and written for Inc., The Guardian and the Huffington Post

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