3 minutes after you started your presentation, the investor’s analyst in front of you says “let’s cut to the chase, show me the investment plan”. You perfectly rehearsed your well-structured beautiful presentation, but now you face real life challenges…
Whoever stood in front of an audience or even presented a one on one presentation to a potential investor, partner or customer, was surely confronted with such situations. We live today in an impatient world in which the listener expects short, preferably visual messages and is often not willing to postpone gratifications. He or she expects immediate answers, and you definitely don’t want to lose his or her attention.
That is why traditional presentations (“Linear”) which are prepared in a predefined order of topics and slides (although intelligently and well structured) are forcing you, the presenter, to follow the path, imposing your text and visuals on your audience.
Every listener is different, and as a presenter you must know your audience, their expectations, the exact pains they have (for which you are about to demonstrate your cure or solution). Therefore, your presentation must be adapted and revisited prior to each session, following a thorough study of your audience.
But even if you acquired from the FBI or the Mossad a comprehensive intelligence report about your audience, you will need in real time to respond to changes (i.e. the most important person in the audience is late and will arrive 10 minutes after you start, or will have to leave after 5 minutes).
“Non Linear Presentation” means exactly this. The ability to change the sequence and length of each part of your presentation on the fly, but still remain coherent. If you try to use “Linear” presentation tools such as PowerPoint, you will find yourself struggling in real time with the adaptation of the presentation (skip 5 slides, no, no, back 2 slides, now go to the last slide…), losing the precious resource you had in the beginning – the attention of your listener.
The use of “Non Linear Presentation” tools such as Prezi, allows you to dynamically flow between sections, while you always have the big picture in front of you and you can easily juggle and master the audience attention. But the tool itself is not enough. You must think in a Non Linear way.
In this example of a Prezi presentation for investors that we designed for a customer, the main screen allows the presenter to “dive” into each of the sections, represented by the little round icons. It is possible to go all the way icon by icon in a structured way (coming back to the main screen between each section), or go directly from the opening screen to the two only sections that are crucial for our specific listener. When you get used to it, it works seamlessly, like magic.
Imagine you are a musician. In a “Linear” world you are a Maestro of a philharmonic orchestra and you have a planned, well-rehearsed program that you play exactly according to the score in front of you. In a “Non Linear” world, you are a rock star, performing a good opening song to gain audience enthusiasm, then you dynamically change the playlist according to the vibe and special requests and at the end, you have your winning ending song that everybody loves… For a successful presentation, be that rock star!