With ever-increasing sophistication in marketing and IT, many presenters are finding that their presentation venues are shrinking. Many presentations, in one form or another, are sales presentations, and the automated identification and qualification of leads has many salespeople skipping the generic capabilities deck and going straight to at least a semi-customized presentation of goods and services based on the audience’s profile.

It’s a shame to waste this kind of targeting, and we all need to be more cognizant of the differences between small and large group presenting. Large groups generally need to be managed a little more—otherwise you lose control of the room and few things are more embarrassing for the presenter. But the same approach with a smaller group is heavy-handed and authoritarian by comparison, and it can leave the few individuals who are in the room feeling like they just got blown away.

Presenting to small groups is more of a consultation than a formal presentation, which many professionals will be fairly comfortable with. What’s uncomfortable is knowing how to either A) control a loosely guided conversation so that the slides match up, or B) knowing what else to do if A is an impossibility (and we’ve all had those situations where A became an impossibility).

One obvious solution is to consider creating a Prezi instead of a conventional PowerPoint. With Prezi’s zoom in, zoom out capabilities, you can develop a bird’s eye view of the different content areas that comprise the subject matter and then focus on specific areas at your discretion without regard for chronology. This frees you up to have true conversation with the small group, calling up your visual aids as necessary regardless of how the conversation takes shape.

The other alternative require a great deal more skill and preparation, but has the added benefit of impressing audiences when done well. If each slide is paired with a central theme or question, it is up to you, the presenter, to anticipate the questions and thoughts that the slide will likely elicit from the listener(s). To the extent that you can invite those thoughts, then have a follow-up slide that addresses what they have said, you will look as if your experience and insight are complete and the force is with you. Be cautious, though, because if you do a poor job of predicting the conversation’s path, your slide transitions will be filled with, “We’ll get to that in a minute…”.

If it’s less than 7 people in an audience, this consultative approach to presentation delivery is generally best. Beyond that, you’re really getting too many cooks in the kitchen. So try to get a read on the situation as best you can, and give a presentation that’s perfect for the group’s size.

Question: How do you use presentations in small scale situations?

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