Focus makes perfect

In admissions — we present a lot. Open house, info sessions, high school visits — you name it and we’re presenting at it.

People think that the most important part of a presentation is to practice so that you can flow through the content effortlessly. With practice, you can study your notes and get your timing right and that’s important. But I’m putting a new spin on the old saying “practice makes perfect” and turning your attention to keeping the audience’s focus too.

Whether you’re an experienced pro at your institution, or a newbie in the admissions world — here are some points worth considering from Bruna Martinuzzi, author of “Presenting with Credibility,” when you start building out your next presentation.

#1. Be mindful of the 10-minute rule. This is first for a reason — it’s super important. What this means is that you need to work in a strategic change every 10 minutes. Martinuzzi says (and I love this), “Sameness generates boredom; a change, even minor, recaptures attention.”

#2. Use images. “When we hear a piece of information, three days later we’ll remember only 10 percent of it; but if we add a picture, we’ll remember 65 percent.” The statistic speaks for itself. Text-based slides — no; pretty pictures — yes. Okay, maybe it’s not THAT simple, but in order to aid memory and maintain attention, add photos into the mix.

#6. Connect the dots for people. Your students, guidance counselors and families will see a lot of presentations from a lot of schools. Make yours stand out by helping them to easily digest the information you’re providing. “Help people see the flow of your presentation so that they can easily understand where you have been and where you are headed.”

Great presentations certainly require practice — but I’m saying “focus makes perfect.”

Martinuzzi says it best when she says, “No matter how important or valuable our content is, if it is not presented in a way that sparks and maintains attention, we lose.”

Read the rest of Bruna Martinuzzi’s article, “How to Keep Your Audience Focused on Your Presentation.”

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