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Strategy 5: Make It Memorable, Actionable, and Transferable

A common weakness of many presentations is that a month, a week, or even a day after the presentation, no one remembers what it was about. Or, if they do remember something about it, they are not doing anything differently than they were doing before the presentation. Therefore, for your presentation to be effective, you must actively work to make it memorable, actionable, and transferable. There is a great deal to consider in bringing this strategy to fruition, but it pays big dividends. Not all presenters will want to use all the techniques in this chapter. Keynote speakers, for example, typically use a minimum of the interactive learning techniques described here. But others, who present full-day or multiday seminars, will find these techniques invaluable.

Make It Memorable

Research has shown that 24 hours after hearing a presentation, the listener will forget at least 50 percent of all the information presented. In 24 more hours, another 50 percent will be forgotten. This means that in a mere 48 hours after hearing a presentation, no matter how attentive the listener is trying to be, no matter how good his notes are, he will forget about 75 percent of everything the speaker said.

In light of these statistics, this section examines the types of memory and presents 11 techniques that are guaranteed to enhance the memorability of your presentation. As an added bonus, you can use these memory techniques to help you organize your presentations.

There are two types of memory: short-term and long-term. Short-term memory allows us to remember a telephone number or someone's name right after we have heard it for up to two minutes. This is the type of memory we use when we don't see a need for the new information after its immediate use.

Long-term memory allows you to remember the person's name for the foreseeable future. Presenters who truly make an impact are the ones who can most effectively place their message in a listener's long-term memory. That is the first purpose of this chapter: how to make you and your presentation more memorable.

The following section examines 11 memory-retention techniques:

  1. Repetition and restatement.

  2. Active vs. passive learning.

  3. Increasing audience attentiveness.

  4. Memory aids and mnemonic devices.

  5. Stories.

  6. Defining moments.

  7. Anchoring.

  8. Metaphors.

  9. Three-act plays.

  10. Music.

  11. Games.

Most presenters use some of these techniques quite well. Skillful presenters not only know how to use all of the techniques, they also know the perfect time and place to use them.

1. Repetition and Restatement

Repetition is the mother of learning.

- Author Unknown

If we repeat a fact seven times, we increase our likelihood of remembering that fact by 80 percent. This is why veteran presenters repeat, repeat, repeat. Then they restate, restate, restate since they know that if they repeat or restate a key point seven times, the listener's retention will be significantly increased. A common weakness of some presenters is to assume: "I said it; they heard it. Move on." True, the audience may have heard your words, but it is possible, if not probable, that they didn't understand you. Even if they did understand you, they will promptly forget what you said. Experienced presenters know that an oral presentation is greatly different than a written document. Why? Readers can always reread; listeners cannot re-listen. As a result, skillful presenters build in repetition and restatement as if they were imagining the listener is using a yellow marker to high-light the important points.

Experienced presenters also vary their explanations and/or start with a relatively simple application of a principle and add complexity as warranted. If you have learned a second language, for example, you may recall how the instructor started with simple words, which led to simple phrases, which led to simple sentences. Good presenters do the same.

A much less frequently used method of repetition is to ask the participants to summarize the material. In our courses, we stop periodically to ask the participants to state something that they have learned, or relearned up to that point in the presentation. If the group is large, you can't call on everyone. However, you can ask for volunteers, or you can call on people at random. A word of caution: When calling on people at random, we recommend you give them the right to decline the chance to participate. If you remember ever being embarrassed by a lack of preparedness when you were in school, you'll understand why this "free pass" is important.

When you have found a willing participant, ask him or her to repeat something that you or someone else has already said. To be more inclusive and less "selective," give everyone enough time to think of an answer, or have them write down the most important one, two, or three things that they have learned or relearned up to that point. After everyone has had a chance to think of an answer, then ask for volunteers to share their thoughts. You will usually find no shortage of willing participants as long as you have given them a moment to prepare.

This exercise makes learning active rather than passive. You will usually find the participants can summarize most, if not all of your teaching points. The beauty of this activity is that some of your points will be repeated, while others will be restated. And these two techniques are exactly what you are trying to accomplish.

Remember, though, it is still the job of the presenter to fill in any missing points, to elaborate on any points that might need clarification, and to bring some sense of order to the comments that were randomly offered.

2. Active vs. Passive Learning

In passive learning, the participants are silent recipients of information that is all too often read to them. This is a technique that produces little, if any, long-term learning.

In active learning, the participants are more than silent partners. In active learning, the participants receive the same information, but are encouraged to transmit information back. Think back to the best teacher you ever had. Chances are, he or she involved you in the learning process on a much higher level than mere listening. Active learning techniques should be incorporated as appropriate in presentations.

Which would you prefer: a presenter who explains a concept and gives one or two examples before moving on, or a presenter who gives a concept and then divides the participants into groups and asks each group to give an example of how they can apply the concept in real life? Most people prefer the active learning approach over the passive listening style.

In the active learning example just presented, there are four ways that the participants can be actively involved:

  1. They can be asked to come up with a specific example of how the solution could be applied in real life.

  2. They can be asked to listen carefully to the other examples in order to choose the one that they like best.

  3. They can be asked to debate the merits of each proposed example in order to choose the one that the group will present.

  4. They can be asked to listen carefully to see which group presents the best example(s) overall.

3. Increasing Audience Attentiveness

Two techniques that are guaranteed to raise the level of attentiveness in your audience are humor, novelty, and surprise. This is important because increasing attentiveness will help to move your material into the participants' long-term memory.

Humor. Humor is a sure-fire way to get an audience to pay attention. Why? Because everybody likes to laugh. So an audience will listen more attentively if they think the speaker is likely to say something funny. They will pay attention in anticipation of the next good laugh. That's how it works for the audience - they will listen more attentively just because they don't want to miss "any of the good stuff."

Seasoned presenters know that humor has a greater purpose. They know that when we laugh, we relax; when we relax, we learn. In short, there is nothing more powerful than a message that entertains. That's why humor is considered an indispensable tool.

Of course, all speakers must be careful with their choice of jokes and/or stories because what is politically correct today can be totally unacceptable tomorrow. As times change, so do standards of acceptability. Also, what is acceptable in one place can be completely inappropriate in another. In the United States, for example, it is usually considered acceptable to joke about the President. That is permissible as a result of the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech. In other countries, though, where individual rights and liberties are different, a speaker would be a fool to poke fun at that country's leaders. For example, Aaron was honored to be invited to speak in Thailand a few years ago.

Aaron: Before I spoke, one of my hosts politely asked if I intended to make any reference, humorous or otherwise, about the King or any member of the Royal Family. I told him I had no intention of doing so, to which he replied: "Good. You shouldn't do that here." It was a good reminder that what works in one country can be totally unacceptable in another.

Humor has both its risks and its rewards. When it works, it's wonderful. When it doesn't, it's deadly. So is it worth the risk? Our advice: Let common sense be your guide. It's better to err on the side of caution, so when in doubt, leave it out.

Another factor to consider is that jokes or humorous stories usually increase the attentiveness level of the individuals in your audience for a very short time. Unless you are naturally funny, and/or have developed a routine of jokes and stories that will raise the attentiveness level of your audience for sustained periods of time, there are other techniques that may serve you better, such as novelty and surprise.

Novelty and surprise. Sean attended a National Speakers Association conference in Los Angeles and what he remembers most vividly was a session by presentations coach Robert Pike. Robert was able to raise the participants' level of attentiveness before the session even began by using the power of novelty and surprise. This is how he did it.

Sean: When I entered the room, I noticed that instead of reading their programs or talking with the person next to them, everyone in the room was split into small groups. They seemed to be working incredibly intensely on a project. The first thing I did was check my watch. Could I have been late? The answer was no. In fact, the session was not due to start for another five minutes. Was I ever curious. Robert then instructed the people who had just come in to join a group. One of my group members informed me that our task was to list the top 10 languages in the world in order of how many people spoke each language. I was hooked, as was everyone who was in our group and all of the people who joined in after me. We hypothesized, debated, and "guess-timated." Time was announced, and we looked up at the overhead as Robert presented the correct list, in order, from the book The Top Ten of Everything by Russell Ash.

The session's topic was on making one's presentations more interactive, and for me this exercise was the most memorable part of the whole conference. Robert was able to raise the attentiveness level of each individual and of his audience as a whole before his presentation even started.

A similar technique is used in our negotiation course.

Sean: Ninety-nine point nine percent of the workshops I have attended start out with introductions and expectations. I start my course with a negotiation. This is a two-person negotiation based on the buying and selling of a house. The instructions state that the buyer and seller have agreed on everything except the closing date. The buyer wants a closing date of June 1st, and the seller wants a closing date of June 30th. The participants have seven minutes to read their instructions and see if they can reach an agreement.

I have never seen this exercise fail to raise the attentiveness level of the participants and for the group as a whole. The participants are instantly engaged in the course, and the expectation is set that the course will be highly interactive and experiential.


Briefly describe an example of how you have seen a presenter raise the attentiveness level in his or her audience.

Next, describe a situation where you did your best at raising the attentiveness level of the participants in one of your presentations.

To complete this exercise, outline how you can do a better job of raising the attentiveness level in one of your future presentations.

4. Memory Aids and Mnemonic Devices

There are times in our lives when we hear a catchy slogan, motto, or tune and just can't seem to get it out of our heads. This is a technique that advertisers use all the time. Several examples are: "Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven, and Pillsbury does it best," "Where's the beef?" from Wendy's, or "Don't leave home without it" from American Express. Just as advertisers use memory aids and repetition, so do presenters. Giving participants in classroom courses or seminars a review sheet, a bookmark, or a business card with a slogan, motto, or "point of wisdom" also increases the likelihood that it will be transferred to the participants' long-term memories.

Another simple, yet effective memory aid is one Aaron uses in his seminars in which he asks the participants to simply fill in the blanks with key words, points, or phrases. All who have ever taught in a classroom know the reason for this is twofold.

First, it is a focusing technique. Fill-in-the-blank activities keep the listener focused on the exact point Aaron is making, and at the exact time he wants the listener to focus on that point. If you have ever been given a handout in which all the reference material is supplied verbatim, you have probably been tempted to either 1) read ahead, or 2) start to daydream, secure in the knowledge that you can always read the handout later. Either way, the presenter has lost the listener. For example, all of us have a handout somewhere in our files that we've been meaning to get back to but never have. The fact is, few, if any, of your audience members will refer to your handouts once they leave your program. That's why you have to make sure the important point sticks with your audience - at the moment the point is made.

The second reason why simple fill-in-the-blank activities are effective is that we are more likely to remember what we have written out in our own handwriting. There is something about the process of taking information in through the eyes and ears, processing it in our brains, and then recording it with our hands that gives us a sense of ownership of the material. It's as if you are telling yourself: "I wrote this down; it must have been important." Curiously, this works even if you were instructed to write it down. There is just an air of significance and permanence that comes through when we put words to paper.

Other types of memory aids include course summaries, tip sheets, and other mnemonic devices. A mnemonic is a clue designed to help us recall something more complex. Acronyms are common and effective mnemonic devices. Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton, authors of a widely read book on negotiating, Getting to Yes, use the term BATNA to represent Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. If you remember the short acronym "BATNA," you can recreate the longer phrase it represents.

The main purpose of an acronym is to reduce complicated phrases or concepts to simple or memorable words and images. Many North American school children, for example, remember the five Great Lakes with the simple acronym HOMES: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior. If you've ever heard that mnemonic before, you probably remembered it. And for those of you who never heard it before, there's an excellent chance you won't forget it, either.

If you are not sure if this really works, try this test. On a sheet of paper, write down the acronym we just discussed: HOMES. Set it aside. Come back to that page in 24 hours and test yourself. Odds are, you'll be able to remember what the acronym stands for and be able to recite the full version of what the acronym represents. Look at it again in a week, in a month, in a year. Again, odds are, you will still remember what it stands for. And when you consider that 48 hours after any presentation, most listeners forget 75 percent of everything they heard, any technique or device that helps move information into long-term memory is worth considering.

That's what memory aids do. They give the listener a hook on which to hang important information. If you remember the hook, no matter how silly it may sound, you are much more likely to remember the information paired with it. A word of caution on the use of acronyms: Many presenters use acronyms that are hard to remember. It should be obvious that if you can't remember the acronym, you certainly won't remember the information assigned it, but many presenters overlook this key point. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear a presenter say, usually with great fanfare, "To help you follow along, today I will use ... ta-daaah ... an acronym!" (as if that is a revolutionary idea). Then they unveil some hopelessly bland, nondescript, or overused word such as ACHIEVE. Then they set out to assign meaning to each letter of the word. The problem is, the more common the acronym, the less likely it will be remembered. That is, if the acronym lacks uniqueness, it usually lacks memorability.

Just as a test, Aaron presented in Toronto a program on presentation skills to an international group of speakers during which he was to make 10 points. He looked for a 10-letter word or phrase that would allow him to make his 10 points, and also be so different that the listeners would not forget it. The acronym he came up with fit both requirements.

Aaron: I introduced the acronym as follows. "Today I have 10 points to make, so to help you remember and follow along, I'm going to use a common speakers' device, an acronym. I looked for a word or phrase that would be appropriate for the occasion, but I couldn't find one that had the right combination of letters for the points I wanted to make. So in desperation, I put the first letter of each key point on an index card. Then I took my 10 cards, tossed them in the air and let them land where they may. Well, imagine my surprise when I found, with just minor rearranging, not one word, but two that would work." Then, as I directed their attention to a projection screen, I said, "So the two words I want you to remember today are ROACH MOTEL." As I expected, there was a momentary stunned silence. Then, about two seconds later, the place erupted in laughter. Why? I caught them by surprise. It was unlike any acronym they had seen, and totally contrary to the mundane acronyms they were accustomed to seeing. And it had two added bonuses. First, it introduced an expectation of fun. But more importantly, it was memorable. The truth is, I didn't know just how memorable it would be until last year, a full nine years after the program, I received a phone call. The caller said, "Is this David, from the ROACH MOTEL?" I was flattered, I think. Moreover, I was impressed, for sure. Because any time that a message is remembered for nine years, I know I've done my job.


Please describe the best memory aid you have seen used in a presentation.

How will you use memory aids more effectively in your next presentation?

5. The Power of Stories

Long after the audience has forgotten your name and the title of your presentation, they will remember your stories, which is why expert presenters are such apt storytellers. One of the best storytellers in the business is Les Brown. In the middle of one of his speeches, he stopped speaking and started snapping his fingers. Then he asked the audience to snap their fingers. As they were all snapping their fingers, Les started to tell a most awe-inspiring story about visiting a friend, Miss Francis, in the hospital. Les said, "I stopped at the nurses' station and asked directions to her room. The nurse said, ‘You must mean Miss Positive,’ and proceeded to give me directions to her room." Even though Miss Francis was frail and weak from the cancer and chemotherapy that had ravaged her body, when a favorite piece of music came on the radio, the frail woman started snapping her fingers to the tune. Les paused dramatically and said in his deepest, most resonating voice, "Miss Francis did not let life take her snap away! And don't you let life take your snap away!"

At that point, you could have heard a pin drop in the room. Professional speaking just doesn't get any better than that. However, Les Brown's story had an unexpected subsequent effect.

Sean: I left our house early one Saturday morning to give a keynote speech in Toronto that same afternoon. I was back home mid-morning the following day. As I drove up to the house, I noticed that one of our patio chairs was on the front porch. When I approached the front doors, I was surprised to find them open. Obviously, my children had forgotten something and had left the doors open. I then saw that they had left the back door open too. I was just thinking that I would have to give them a good talking to, when I noticed that the microwave was missing from its customary perch in the kitchen. Further investigation revealed that the computer, stereo, video camera, and all of the CDs were gone. The kids didn't forget. We had been robbed!

The police came and went. As I waited for my children to arrive, I had half an hour to reflect. Did I feel violated - especially thinking that the robbers had gone into all of our bedrooms.

I tried to be philosophical about it. No one was hurt. Others have had their whole homes destroyed. The robbers only took electronics. Everything could be replaced. I still felt violated and for the first time felt uneasy in my own home.

Then came the knock at the door. My children had arrived. I explained what had happened. My daughter was standing on the first landing of the stairs on the way up to her bedroom when she stopped. She turned toward me, looked me right in the eyes and said, "Daddy, don't let those robbers take your snap away." She had learned that lesson from listening to a Les Brown story - ironclad proof of the power of an excellent story, perfectly told, to be absolutely memorable - even to a 10-year-old.


Do you have a story or stories that a 10-year-old would remember? If you have one, try it out on a 10-year-old and see if it passes the memorability test. If you don't have one or if the one you have doesn't pass the 10-year-old test, get to work at developing one.

Test your stories often. Your audience will continually give you feedback both on the content and on the delivery. Experiment a bit. Top-notch presenters we have interviewed told us that story development is an experience in trial and error, and is a lifelong process.

6. Defining Moments

Defining moments are that part of the presentation where the audience not only gets it, but they also get that they get it. It is at this point that the goal or lesson of the presentation becomes crystal clear. It is also at this point that the audience understands precisely what the presenter intended to communicate and is given a choice to act, or not act, on what they have learned.

Peter Lege is business owner, author, presenter, and volunteer extraordinaire. He is recognized as a World Class Presenter by three speakers' organizations: Toastmasters International, the National Speakers Association, and the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. What makes Peter such an accomplished presenter that he is recognized by three organizations? First, Peter is a keen observer; second, he is an accomplished storyteller; third, he is a relentless reader and student of history; fourth he is a master user of analogies; fifth, he is a gifted developer of transitions; sixth, he is an exceptional wordsmith; and seventh, he is a powerful asker of questions. This is illustrated with a segment of one of Peter's presentations: You Never Know.

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to eke out a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran. There, mired to his waist in mud, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's farm, and an elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.

"I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life."

"No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer said, and at that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door.

"Is that your son?" the nobleman asked.

"Yes," said the farmer.

"I'll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll grow to be a man you can be proud of."

And that he did. In time, Farmer Fleming's son graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.

Years afterward, the nobleman's son was stricken with pneumonia, and penicillin saved his life. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill, His son? Winston Churchill.

Someone once said that what goes around comes around.

What we can learn from observing Peter Lege is that excellent presenters accomplish seven times more than less accomplished presenters, using multiple skills and teaching on multiple levels, all at the same time. In the example above, we can see how Peter artfully used this intriguing story as an analogy to illustrate that what goes around, comes around. He then, both implicitly and explicitly, asks us to evaluate ourselves by asking the question, "Will we be happy with what we are doing today when it comes back to us tomorrow?"


Part I: Think about three of the finest presentations you have ever seen or heard. Then identify the defining moment for each of these three presentations. That is, at what moment did you get it and "get that you got it"?

Part II: Identify a defining moment from one of your own presentations.

Part III: If you already have a defining moment, can you enhance it? Or if you don't have a defining moment, how could you craft one?

Masterful presenters present their ideas more eloquently, more profoundly, and more powerfully than their less masterful counterparts - and in half the time. Peter Lege became one of North America's foremost presenters because he understands defining moments and knows how to use them eloquently, profoundly, powerfully, and succinctly.

7. Anchoring

Anchoring is the act of helping to anchor an idea, concept, and/or principle in another person's memory. This can be done visually, aurally, and kinesthetically.

Visually. Presenter Janet Laap demonstrates anchoring visually with the following memorable visual metaphor:

I try to create useful, deeply connecting programs with humor and stories that are hard for audience members to erase from their minds. I do that in the framework similar to music composition - say a symphony from the Romantic Period - with highs and lows, different speeds, all built toward a climax. I find that works well. Then of course I use visual effects. For example, sometimes I physically carry someone on my back across the stage; usually a fairly robust man, and the audience connects that with carrying around too much, doing too much. Then I follow with a quote by Peter Drucker: "Businesses don't fail because they don't know what to do; they fail because they don't know what to give up."

The fact is, some people "listen" with their eyes. That is, visual learners can learn more by seeing one physical illustration or demonstration than any printed or spoken explanation will ever accomplish.

Aurally. Another way to anchor your material in your audience's long-term memory is to anchor it aurally. For example, Sean was in London and decided to visit the underground war rooms where Winston Churchill lived and held some of his war cabinet meetings, which had recently been reopened as a museum. Remarkably, they were untouched since they had been closed in 1945 at the end of the war. The underground command center made quite an impression. However, the most memorable part of the visit was hearing Churchill's voice saying, "We will never, never, ever surrender ... " Sean says that he can still hear Churchill speaking in his mind today, as if he just visited the museum. The memory was anchored aurally.

Marcia Steele in one of her presentations provides another example. In this she speaks eloquently of her experience emigrating from Jamaica to New York at a young age. Then she stops and sits down in a chair on stage next to a writing table. Instantly, the audience is transported back into time, as it hears the recorded voice of Walter Cronkite announce the tragic news that Martin Luther King, Jr., has been assassinated. Marcia uses nothing but sound to illustrate a transition in her life and in the life of her country. It is a powerful moment, anchored aurally.

Kinesthetically. Kinesthetic learners are those who learn best by touching or doing. They are "hands-on" learners. One of the principles emphasized in our negotiation course is, "You can't change someone's mind if you don't know where their mind is." He used four methods to make sure that the participants remember this phrase. The first is repetition. He says it at least seven times. The second is to anchor it kinesthetically in a handshake with one's partner. The third is to start the phrase and ask the class to finish it. The fourth is by using the phrase as one of the answers in a quiz at the beginning of the second day.

Sean: I anchor a key point kinesthetically by asking the participants to find a partner. I then demonstrate one of our mantras, "You can't change someone's mind if you don't know where their mind is" with a volunteer from the audience. We repeat the mantra while we are shaking hands as if we had just been introduced. Please note that the rhythm of the handshake is matched to the rhythm at which the words are being spoken - which is modeled at a slow tempo. The purpose of this exercise is to anchor the words through hearing, but also kinesthetically in the feel of the handshake. The principle is further reinforced because handshaking is symbolic of agreement. By the time this exercise is repeated three or four times with the audience members, the phrase, "You can't change someone's mind if you don't know where his or her mind is" is anchored both aurally and kinesthetically, which helps to transfer it to one's long-term memory.

One way to think about what we are tying to accomplish when we say that we want to anchor it kinesthetically is to think about a song, jingle, or advertisement that starts to drive you crazy because it keeps playing itself over and over again in your mind. What we want to accomplish here is the same thing, only we want to do it on purpose. Therefore, the participants are instructed that every time they shake someone's hand, the phrase, "You can't change someone's mind if you don't know where their mind is" is to be repeated silently to themselves. In other words, we are using the psychological principle of pairing, that is, taking something that naturally occurs at a high rate, and pairing it with something that would naturally occur at a low rate, thereby increasing the frequency of the activity that naturally occurs at a low rate, and hence the likelihood that it will be remembered.

Another technique to anchor it kinesthetically is through the use of one-minute neck massages.

Sean: I use this technique to help people remember one of William Ury's five-part model for breakthrough negotiations. Once again, the participants are asked to select partners. I make sure that no one is left out, so if there is an extra participant, that participant can work with the seminar leader. Each participant is instructed to give his or her partner a 30-second neck massage. They are to massage their partner's neck while saying: "Going to the balcony means keeping your eye on the prize, not getting emotionally hooked, and looking at the situation as an incredibly wise third-party." The masseuse is to massage gently all the while saying the above phrase at a slow rate. The instructor repeats the phrase two times, and the masseuse is instructed to say the words out loud along with the instructor. The masseuse and person being massaged then switch roles and the process is repeated.

The exercise will only work if the instructor and the participants feel comfortable using it. You need to point out at the beginning of the exercise that if anyone is not comfortable doing the exercise, they can simply repeat the phrase to themselves. In addition, this is also a good exercise to bring about a change of pace when people have been sitting for a long period of time. It took me a while to get up enough nerve to use it and the feedback that I have received from the participants has been overwhelmingly positive.


Think of the best examples where you saw a presenter anchor his or her point visually, aurally, and kinesthetically.

Think of two or three places where you can anchor a learning point visually, aurally, or kinesthetically in one of your upcoming presentations.

8. The Power of Metaphors

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness between them. For example, Toastmaster Hans Lillejord says, "Some words are diamonds; some words are stones," which is a metaphor. Conversely, you could say, "Some words are valuable; some are worthless" - but the diamonds and stones metaphor evokes a much stronger imagery. For visual and auditory learners, vivid images are more likely to connect and to stick.

A captivating metaphor that catches the participants' imaginations is often one of presenters' most powerful tools. For example, in successful change management, an appropriate metaphor can help the organization better understand what is necessary to move not only from one organizational structure to another but also from one organizational culture to another.

The amalgamation of five fiercely proud and independent hospitals into a combined Health Sciences Centre illustrates the difficulties involved in this type of transition. During this time Sean developed a course on managing change and uncertainty and then trained all of the trainers in staff training and development on how to facilitate the course. One of his favorite techniques is to divide the participants into subgroups of five or six, and then ask them to draw pictures to identify metaphors that represent the current state of the organization and a picture of what the ideal state of the organization would look like.

Although at the outset the groups tend to be resistive, once they start on the task and get into it, the energy and creativity in the room becomes readily apparent. For example, one group of participants at the new Health Sciences Centre used the metaphor of Rubik's Cube to represent the complexity of amalgamating five hospitals, four distinct cultures, and 14 unions.

The idea of using Rubik's Cube as a metaphor for the transition was perfect. The amalgamation was so complex that trying to solve one problem often created another problem somewhere else, just as in trying to solve the Rubik's Cube - that is, getting all of one color on one side of the cube - most often created a patchwork of color on another side of the cube. However, the power of this metaphor is that the Rubik's Cube does have a solution - a very difficult and time-consuming solution, but a solution nonetheless. In this case, the metaphor helped the participants easily grasp and remember three important lessons: the difficulty of the task of solving all of the problems; the hard work, effort and time necessary to solve the problems; and the understanding that the cube (and the amalgamation of the five hospitals) is ultimately solvable.

Another group had a very different but equally powerful metaphor. This group chose the metaphor "follow the yellow brick road" from The Wizard of Oz. As in the metaphor of the Rubik's Cube, the journey was long and difficult, but the final destination could be reached safely in the end. The major focus in this group's metaphor, however, was on the qualities that the participants and the organization as a whole would have to possess in order to successfully complete their journey. These qualities were the qualities that the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow were valiantly searching for: courage, wisdom, and caring or compassion.

When we looked at these two drawings together and the metaphors they contained, we had a very powerful way to conceptualize the challenges facing the new hospital. The Rubik's Cube perfectly exemplified the complexity of the merger and the need to patiently work on solutions. The metaphor from The Wizard of Oz perfectly represented the human qualities necessary for a successful transition. Metaphors provide an excellent tool to speak about some of the unspoken conversations that can hold the organization back and help transform the difficult coversation into skillful dialogue that can help move the organization forward. It is also true that the participants will remember particularly meaningful metaphors long after they have forgotten your name or the title of your presentation.

9. The Power of Three-Act Plays

Sean was asked to do a workshop on managing change and uncertainty for a local high school. By interviewing a representative sample of the staff before the workshop, he was able to determine their main concerns: new education legislation that was before the legislature; the number of school boards in the province was being decreased from 26 to five through consolidation; the new legislation would mean the teachers would have less control over their day-to-day activities; workloads were increasing while preparation time was decreasing; and their administration was offered early retirement, which could result in an entirely new and unknown administration for the school.

Sean: My experience in reading about and conducting workshops on managing change and uncertainty has taught me a great deal about this subject. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is that during times of change and uncertainty most of us feel adrift. We tend to feel less anchored to the past because the old ways are no longer working. We feel less anchored to the present because by their very nature, change and uncertainty tell us that the present will no longer be viable, either. We also tend to feel less anchored to the future during times of change and uncertainty because, by its very nature, the future is less clear. In other words, we are less anchored, period.

The purpose of this workshop was to help the teachers examine their present situation in relation to their past, present, and future anchors. We examined our past transitions and looked at the skills, strategies, and supports that anchored us through those changes. We examined our present situation and looked at the skills, strategies, and supports that exist in our current world that will help us work through our current transitions more effectively. Lastly, we looked at a number of techniques that could help to anchor the future. When the future is sufficiently clear, it acts as a magnet drawing us toward it.

In using this technique, the participants are invited, either individually or in groups, to write a short three-act play. It is helpful to think about three components for each act: a description of the setting in which the act will take place, a storyline for the act, and music for the act. Let me give a description of how this was done by one of my client groups.

The first play was in the form of an allegory. I observed this group preparing their play. An English teacher in the group had written a number of plays and under his guidance, this group wrote their play in vivid detail, where Act One presented the story of a young teacher who had just arrived at the school after completing his degree and teacher's training. He was idealistic, enthusiastic, and full of passion for his chosen career.

In Act Two, we find the young teacher totally disillusioned with the teaching profession in general and this school in particular.

In Act Three, the young teacher is taken under the wing of a wise, older teacher, and he becomes realistically grounded in expectations of what he can and cannot accomplish.

10. The Power of Music

In this same workshop, another group of creative teachers used music to anchor their points in a way that the audience will never forget.

Sean: The second play was in the form of a musical review. The group carefully chose the songs for each of the three acts and sang the words to each song, loudly and clearly. The song for Act One was "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Given the fears about what could happen to their school under the new education legislation, this choice was very appropriate. The song for the Act Two, where things get worse was "Help" by the Beatles. And the song for Act Three, where things get better, was the ballad, "We'll Rise Again" by the Rankin Family, with the words about seeing "the future in the faces of our children" being exceptionally appropriate.

The singing of "We'll Rise Again" was a moving experience for all of us. It captured in music the teachers' and administration's vision of what they liked best about their school and how they wanted to anchor that vision in the future. When I tell this story in seminars and keynotes and accompany the story with this inspiring piece of music, often there is not a dry eye in the room.

Each of these plays and songs expressed important elements about the way the staff saw the school, about their fears, and most importantly, about their vision of the future and what they wanted for their school.

Another technique is to ask the participants to write lyrics to a song. The participants must use course material in their song. Composing and singing a song will help move the material from the participants' short-term memory to their long-term memory. Reviewing, choosing, and prioritizing the course material means that the course participants will be more likely to remember the material. Secondly, the material that the course participants choose to go into the song becomes highlighted with extra meaning.

Sean: The participants in our presentations course composed the following song. The song was based on a Newfoundland ballad.

It's the bye that writes the speech and it's thy bye that gives her.
It's the bye that avoids the TRAPS by knowing all my listeners.
Tell them what's in it for me. Remember HUD and A.B.C.
Open with a dandy hook and don't forget to close her.

Use good evidence, simulations, and stories that surprise ya.
And don't forget to start it off with an advanced organizer.

Practice, practice, practice it's not too big a chore, and when you think you've done enough, it's time to do some more.

After the participants compose and sing the course theme song, they teach their song to the other course participants, thereby increasing the involvement of all and increasing the memorability of the course material and increasing the fun and entertaining value of the presentation all at the same time. In summary, plays and songs are a unique way to add memorability, fun, and creativity to your presentations.

11. The Power of Games

Learning is directly proportional to the amount of fun you have.

- Robert Pike

Twenty-five percent of the impact of your presentation comes from a powerful beginning. Another 25 percent comes from a powerful ending. Thus, it pays to have terrific endings. One way to do this is with games.

There are three things that a great ending should include: a review or summary of what was learned, a call for action, and a mnemonic device (memory aid) to help the participants capture the essence of what was learned.

Games can help you do all three. They can review and summarize your material, add fun and creativity to your presentations, and increase the level of attentiveness of your audience and therefore make your presentations more memorable.

Negotiation Jeopardy. Sean uses a game he calls "Negotiation Jeopardy" where questions are derived from the course summary.

Sean: The contestants are divided into two or three groups depending on the number of participants in the course. Up to 14, I usually divide the participants into two groups; with 15 or more, I use three groups. It is a closed-book and closed-notes exercise. The participants quickly become involved trying to remember all of the course materials. All of this helps move the concepts from the participants' short-term memory to their long-term memory.

One very interesting thing about this review is that the participants usually don't even see it as a review. They see it as a game, and it doesn't take long for the contestants to become very competitive with each other. This raises their level of attentiveness, and that increased level of attentiveness also increases the likelihood that the material will transfer to the participants' long-term memory.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The groups that work on this game always have an incredibly good time. They carefully prepare the questions in ascending order of difficulty. One of their members plays the role of emcee and carefully asks the contestant if he or she would like to move up to the next level, realizing of course, that if he or she misses, all of their "previous winnings" will be for naught.

The group that organizes the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" contest picks the contestant from among the remaining course members. In my experience, they always pick one of the most extroverted and fun-loving members of the class, and this also adds to the excitement and fun of the game. As in "Negotiation Jeopardy," the participants are having so much fun that it raises their level of attentiveness, and this again contributes to anchoring the course materials in their long-term memory.

Newspaper Personals. Newspaper personals are a great way to have fun, raise everyone's level of attentiveness, and increase memorability. All you have to do is to ask the participants to do a skit modeled on the personals in newspapers. For example, the five components most often used to describe superb presenters are: credible, competent, dynamic, compatible, and caring. Five participants are selected and given signs for each component. Each participant then has to introduce him- or herself and their characteristic in the style of a personal want ad. For example, "I am a single, caring 33-year-old male. I demonstrate credibility by thoroughly researching both my subject and my audience. I take full responsibility for things I don't know and will get back to the participant or the group as soon as I can find the answer." Or "I am a dynamic five-foot-eight female. I bring energy, enthusiasm, and passion to all of my presentations. I am looking for audiences who share similar characteristics." In sum, this is a great way to make your presentations more interesting. You never know what the participants are going to come up with and this element of surprise adds greatly to both the learning and the memorability of the experience. Some of the skits are so hilarious that the person doing the skit will have earned a nickname based on his or her skit that will last for at least the remainder of the presentation.

Bumper Stickers. The purpose of this exercise is to distill the wisdom learned in the presentation into the form of a bumper sticker. The bumper sticker should be a catchy phrase or acronym. The bumper sticker should also be easy to remember.

Sean: One group that I worked with was dealing with a lot of uncertainty related to the fact that their business would be significantly downsized. I was asked to give a presentation on managing change and uncertainty. As part of the presentation, I presented a psychological study that helps people better understand the effects of uncertainty. The study looked at the increasing levels of stress that women experienced who were married to men that have been in military combat and how their stress increased markedly with increasing levels of uncertainty. The three levels of uncertainty were women who were married to men who were killed in action (KIA), prisoners of war (POW), and missing in action (MIA). The study demonstrated that the women who were married to men who were MIAs experienced the greatest uncertainty and, hence, the greatest degree of stress. At the end of the presentation, I divided the participants into groups and asked them to make a bumper sticker to help summarize what they had learned.

The group that impressed me the most was a group that turned the letters POW into "Positive Opportunity Waiting." Other groups have turned the letters of their organization into a powerful motto: for example, "ATV" as standing for "Attitude, Teamwork, and Vision." After explaining the exercise, divide the participants into groups of four. Give each group 15 minutes to develop their bumper sticker and debrief.

Pantomime. Pantomime is a great way to make the end of your presentation fun, creative, and memorable. It is perfect for the end of the day when the participants are tired; you want to raise the energy and fun level.

Sean: In our negotiation course, the participants work very hard, so at the end of a long day I often divide the participants into small groups. Each group is asked to develop a pantomime to represent the most essential element of the day's learning. One of the most effective was where two of the men took off and exchanged their shoes to represent looking at the issue from their counterpart's perspective.

Acronyms. Acronyms are somewhat similar to bumper stickers, only in this case the participants have to take a word, such as "presenter" and match each letter to an element of the presentation process to help the participants remember the course material. One that the Harvard Program on Negotiation uses is BATNA to help the participants in their negotiation courses remember "Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement" and I used the acronym TRAP to remember that one's audience is composed of theorists, reflectors, activists, and pragmatic learners.

You can try this technique out in the space below to help you remember some of the principles from this resource with the word PRESENTER.

We have just examined 11 techniques to help your audiences remember the material you present. These techniques included repetition and restatement; active vs. passive learning; increasing audience attentiveness; the use of memory aids, stories, defining moments, anchoring, metaphors, three-act plays, music, and games. Before you do anything else, make sure that you understand and know how to implement as many of these as possible. You can then go onto the next step, which is to make it actionable.

Make It Actionable

I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand.

- Confucius

Confucius said this in 970 B.C. and it is just as true today. This is why savvy presenters involve their audience to the fullest extent possible. To help you turn your audience's good intentions into concrete, tangible, and actionable steps, use the five proven techniques presented below:

  1. Developing an action plan.

  2. Setting SMART goals.

  3. Developing a specific follow-through form.

  4. Scheduling a follow-up class.

  5. Using the Three-by-Three Form.

Note that elements from these various techniques can be combined in order to develop an actionable presentation that increases return on investment by maximizing transfer of training.

1. Developing an Action Plan

Superb presenters encourage and inspire their participants to take action. An important part of our leadership development program is for the participants to carry out a project that will improve their leadership ability, overcome obstacles, and improve their ability to influence others. The participants design their project in the first class meeting and report back several months later on the progress that they made.

The nature of the projects has been very broad in scope from getting career counseling to getting a new job; from getting neighbors to clean up after their dogs to pressuring the city to make streets safer; from getting into better physical shape to upgrading one's standing as a coach and building a world-class swimming team and the facilities to go with it. One participant worked on safety at work and was so successful that he received a raise, while another, who was faced with laying off several long-time employees, found a way to make the organization more profitable resulting in no layoffs. Each one of their projects called for a demonstrated effort on the participants' part. It was a powerful lesson in leadership. Is there another way that they could have better learned about leadership? We think not! The Center for Creative Leadership completed some seminal research that documented that 50 percent of what we learn is learned though experience. Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, states that the foundation of team and organizational effectiveness is personal mastery. This assignment makes the participants' learning both memorable and actionable. Part of developing an action plan is to turn that plan into SMART goals to ensure that that plan will come to fruition.

2. Set SMART Goals

SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and have a Time deadline. Far too often, at the end of a presentation, people set goals that are vague and are difficult to meet.

Sean: To counteract this tendency, I ask the participants in my negotiation workshops to set SMART goals at the end of the session. I then ask the participants to share their goals. I also give people the right to pass if they have set a private goal that they would rather not share. The sharing of goals gives me the opportunity to make sure that each person has, in fact, set a SMART goal. Also, hearing each other's goals gives some participants the opportunity to modify their goals if someone else has done a better job of making their particular goal specific.

For example, the "S" and the "M" stand for specific and measurable; for a goal to be both specific and measurable, it must pass the "Yes-No" test. The "Yes-No" test states that the goal must be so specific and measurable that we can count whether the specific behavior that the goal intends took place or not. For example, if a participant said, "I am going to use active listening with my associates for the next month," it is not specific or measurable. If, on the other hand, she said, "I will use intermediate summaries three times with my associate Claire over the next three weeks," it is measurable and specific.

"A" stands for attainable and "R" stands for realistic. Take long-distance running for example. If you were not currently training, it would be foolish to try to run a marathon. Therefore, we have to be careful that the participants do not set goals that cannot be met. In our negotiation course a realistic and attainable goal would be to use the "Negotiator's Preparation Form" three times within the next month. Setting a goal to use the form for every negotiation during the next month would be both unrealistic and unattainable.

Lastly, the "T" stands for setting a time deadline. This is based on the principle that a commitment is not a commitment unless there is a deadline attached to it. Having a definite end point makes it much more likely that the participant will evaluate his or her progress. Having participants write a letter to themselves, which will be mailed, and/or having them work with a peer, using the buddy system, will also increase the likelihood of reaching their goal.


Please take one of your own goals and make it into a SMART actionable goal.

Next, outline the steps you will take to help your participants / audience develop SMART goals.

3. Develop a Specific Follow-Through Form

Another way to make sure that the participants set SMART goals is by developing a specific and detailed follow-through form.

Sean: The Negotiator's Preparation Form (see Appendix C) is the most detailed of the forms that I use to help the participants transform their good intentions into tangible action. This form covers every aspect of preparing for a negotiation. The form also helps remind the participants of each of the steps that are necessary to come to the table impeccably well prepared.


Develop a form (using the one in Appendix C as a guide) that makes it easy for your participants/audience to turn the material you presented into concrete and actionable steps.

4. Schedule a Follow-Up Class

A follow-up class is an excellent way to review the participants' progress and refine and develop the skills that were taught in the first course.

Sean: In my advanced negotiating course, I start by asking the participants to form pairs and interview each other as if they were one of the world's best media interviewers. The interviewer asks questions about a negotiation the interviewee was in and felt good about. The example can come from work or outside of work. The interviewer is instructed to be as supportive as possible and to allow for the fact that it may take some time to think of an example. The interviewer is also instructed to help identify specific skills that were used in the negotiation. After five minutes, the interviewer and the interviewee are instructed to switch roles. We then start the class with each person briefly introducing his or her partner, giving a very brief summary of the negotiation, and listing the specific skill or skills that were used. This exercise serves as an excellent transition into the course, and is also a thorough review of all of the material that was covered in the first course. I then divide the participants into three groups. Each person in each group shares a current negotiation issue with which he or she would like some help. The groups are then given an hour to help each other as much as possible using the Three-by-Three Form to evaluate three things that are done well and three targets for improvement.

5. Use the Three-by-Three Form

You can use the Three-by-Three Form by asking the participants to list three strengths of the person doing the exercise and to make three suggestions for improvement. Our preference is to ask other people in the class to summarize the feedback on the form for the person who has just presented. This technique has a number of advantages. In a presentation course by the time four or five people say that the presenter has a great opening statement, the person is much more likely to listen to and accept the feedback. Likewise, if four or five people tell the participant who presented that he needs to slow down and add pauses to let the other person participate more, the person presenting the case is much more likely to believe it and take corrective action. The completed Three-by-Three Form, which now serves as an excellent summary, is then given to the person who presented. An example of this form filled out, follows.

Name: Joe / Jane Participant

Please list three things I do well as a presenter:

  1. Great storyteller.

  2. Excellent examples.

  3. Creative use of pictures.

Please list three specific targets for improvement:

  1. Speaks too quickly.

  2. Needs to pause so the audience can hear, understand, and digets.

  3. Needs more variety in transitions.


The Three-by-Three Form can easily be modified to best suit the purpose of any presentation. For example, when the course is on presentation skills, the word negotiator is substituted for the word presenter and the feedback is on how the participant presented, or if the course is on sales, the feedback is on the participant's ability and targets for improvement in sales.

Making it actionable requires using the five techniques discussed to help your audiences remember, understand, and use the materials you present. Help make sure your presentation's goals are actually implemented by developing action plans, setting SMART goals, developing follow-up forms, scheduling follow-up classes, and using a three-by-three form. Then you are ready for the last step in this chapter, which is to make it transferable.

Make It Transferable

There is a growing recognition of a "transfer problem" in organizational training ... It is estimated that while American industries annually spend up to $100 billion on training and development, not more than 10 percent of these expenditures actually result in transfer to the job.

- Timothy Baldwin and Kevin Ford

One of the biggest complaints about presentations is that, although they may be interesting and even entertaining, they have nothing to do with the real life. In other words, little or nothing is transferable. This means that much of the billions of dollars that is spent each year on training in North America is wasted. A notable exception to this way of thinking is taken into consideration at the Ford Motor Company.

Jacques Nasser, a former president and CEO at Ford, used teaching, mentoring, and "action learning" to drive change at Ford. Action learning is learning by doing and setting goals or targets, with senior managers acting as the teachers/facilitators/mentors. The participants have 100 days to turn the goals of their projects into concrete results. Nassar states:

Ford's change program is based on teaching, but it eschews the traditional classroom setting. Teaching at Ford is achieved through a multi-faceted initiative, including small group discussions of strategy and competition, stints of community service, and 360-degree feedback. At the initiative's center is a hands-on, three-day workshop that culminates in an assignment designed to let "students" demonstrate that they understand Ford's new mind-set: [whereby] they must deliver a significant new cost saving or revenue source to Ford's bottom line.

One of the key elements of transferability is making the participants accountable for utilizing the course materials. In the above example, the employees at Ford were given assignments that would help the whole company "work better, smarter, and faster."

Methods to Increase Transfer of Training

There are several proven methods that you can use to increase transfer of training:

  1. The buddy system.

  2. Role-playing.

  3. Telephone and/or e-mail follow-up.

  4. E-dialogues.

  5. Continuous-learning or mastermind groups.

  6. Writing an email or letter to your boss, manager, or supervisor.

  7. Learning contracts with the learner's boss, manager, or supervisor.

  8. Making the learning part of an employee development plan or succession plan.

  9. Making training part of the organizational culture.

The buddy system is an excellent way to help ensure transfer of training. Just as we floss our teeth more frequently just before going to the dentist, using a buddy helps to ensure that the learner is compliant in putting his or her learning into practice. Participants can be paired up in groups of two. The buddies draw up a contract, exchange written goals, contact information, agree to meet at least once a week, and develop a schedule as to who will initiate contact on alternating weeks.

Part of the buddy system contract should focus on how you will support each other when you implement a new skill, how you will help each other overcome obstacles to implementing the new skills, and how you will help each other maintain the desired change. As Mark Twain said, "Anyone can quit smoking. I've done it a thousand times." Making the change is the easy part; maintaining the change is an altogether different problem. Knowing that the participants will be responsible for teaching and coaching each other makes them more accountable to each other and to themselves. A good working relationship with your buddy can make all the difference between carrying out your good intentions and not carrying them out.

People often learn the most when they teach others.

- Broad and Newstrom

Role-playing can also help in the transferability of skills, just as role-playing can help you make your presentation more dynamic. The advantage of role-playing is that the participants can actually see if they have mastered the materials or not. In many cases, they find that although their intellectual understanding of the concepts are fine, it is another matter altogether to put them into practice. Role-playing, role reversal, and alternative endings were explored in detail in Strategy 4.

Sean: I always emphasize that role-playing is one of the best ways to learn. However, I also emphasize that this is a purely voluntary activity and that many people learn better by vicariously watching - this is especially true of the reflectors in the group.

Phone and e-mail follow-up work in the same way as the buddy system does in holding each other accountable, but it takes place over the telephone or through e-mail. Typically, the participants are encouraged to set up debriefing/coaching sessions once a week for a minimum of three weeks. Participants can also stay in touch through a combination of e-mail, texts, telephone, or follow-up meetings.

E-dialogues allow participants to set up and participate in their own private and/or public chat room where each participant can pose a problem, dilemma, or challenge, while previous course participants and/or the course instructor offer their advice. Don't underestimate the power of this technique.

Sean: I had a client who was a very successful programmer. He was thinking that he wanted to change careers and become a pilot. Given that he was in his mid-40s, he wondered if he would ever recoup his investment if he made the change. He received an incredible response to his question when he posted it on a chat room for pilots. Some of the responses were three pages long, single-spaced. We were impressed by both the quality and the quantity of the responses he received.

Continuous learning or mastermind groups are groups of like-minded individuals who collectively help each other develop their skills and strategies through peer mentoring. They also hold each other responsible for developing specific goals in specific time frames. To be effective, the group should meet at least once a month. For example, the members in our continuous learning group all decided to attend a conference on Authentic Leadership together. After the conference, one of our group members agreed to type up all of his notes and share them with everyone else in the group. Another participant agreed to look up the references that were given on the course and make those materials available to the rest of us. A third member agreed to schedule monthly conference calls so we could hold each other accountable for the goals that we made.

Have participants write an email or letter to their boss, manager, or supervisor stating what they learned in the course and how they will apply it. The advantage of this technique is that it makes the action plan from the course a legitimate document. It also actively brings a participant's boss, manager, or supervisor into the loop, which increases accountability.

A learning contract with one's boss, manager, or supervisor is much the same as writing a letter. It may be more substantial and be in place over a longer period of time. Lastly, the learning contract, by its very nature, tends to hold all of the parties who are signatories to the contract to a higher level of accountability.

Make the learning part of a plan. Sean had the pleasure of working on an employees' succession plan at a large cooperative. A number of upper-management positions would be opening up due to retirement three years later. Thirty-two middle managers applied for each of the eight senior management positions. If the process were perceived to be anything less than thorough or fair, it would damage both the organization and employee morale. The assessment involved three parts. The first part was a very thorough 360-degree feedback in which candidates are assessed by their manager, boss, or superior. They are also assessed by their subordinates and peers and the candidates also assessed their own ability on nine key factors and 39 subscales. Second, the candidates also took a number of psychological tests. Third, the candidates attended an assessment center where they were assessed on their ability to present ideas, think on their feet, organize a speech, and negotiate. A written evaluation based on a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) for their current division within their organization was also completed. All of this data was synthesized and each candidate received a rating from 1 to 100 as to their suitability for advancement, their strengths, and targets for improvement. Each candidate was thoroughly debriefed and given specific recommendations for improvement. A detailed action plan was developed comprising of relevant readings, courses, and mentoring assignments within the organization. The candidates were deeply motivated and perceived the process to be thorough, fair, and relevant. Did the process increase transfer of training? Absolutely!

Make the training part of the organizational culture. To be truly effective, it is a not enough to give presentations. The training has to become part of the organizational culture. To do this, it is not enough to just give all of the employees training; they have to hear stories of how the training can help make a better company and better employees. Also, if one of the employees forgets how to use the skills and strategies, other employees can coach that person on how to use the appropriate skills, strategies, and techniques. In other words, in transformational training, the role of the presenter is to help transform the participants from trainees into trainers.

Sean: I taught a negotiation course at a two-day staff-training event for an employee assistance organization. At the time, I was in private practice as a trainer half-time, and worked for this particular company half-time as their regional manager for the Maritimes. About a year and a half later, I was discussing a sensitive employee issue with the president and CEO of the company. As we were discussing strategy, he asked me what my BATNA was. And although I frequently taught this concept, in this particular case, I had forgotten. This was terrific evidence that there had been excellent transfer of training. The story of how the "pupil" in this case taught the "teacher" served to reinforce the value of using this particular strategy in that corporate culture.

You know that you have been successful in presenting your material when you see it used. Encouraging your participants to teach the material to others, review the material with their managers and supervisors, using the buddy system, and developing action plans are essential if transfer of training is to take place. Perhaps the best indication that it has done so is when it becomes part of the organization's culture.

To summarize, no matter how good or well-presented the material, it will lose most of its value if we do not make it memorable, actionable, and transferable. Adept presenters put as much work into this part of presenting as they do into the development, delivery, and organization of their material. To become more talented as a presenter, we suggest that you reread and apply the strategies and skills that are presented in this chapter until you are using them effectively in each and every presentation. If your message is worth saying, make it worth remembering. You and your audience will benefit.

Westside Toastmasters on Meetup

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