Guest Blog Post: The Best Presentations in Life Are Short

NHCAW member and Strafford Regional Planning Commission Principal Planner Kyle Pimental recently gave a conference presentation about a project he worked on with NHCAW partners and Oyster River Middle School teachers, 5th graders, and their parents to explore how climate change affects our communities. In this blog post, Kyle shares some of his tips for giving a great presentation.

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It’s not always easy to give a presentation to a large crowd. In fact, there’s often a variety of challenges that make it difficult to successfully convey the overall message in a way that will resonant with a majority of attendees. Lacking a thorough understanding of the audience, as well as, a lengthy, text-heavy PowerPoint presentation are the two key ingredients in a recipe for disaster. There is little worse than having to sit through 100 slides of data tables with atom-sized text, right after you’ve eaten a big lunch. For all the aforementioned reasons, it is important to make a concerted effort to keep presentations short, sweet, and to the point.

A presentation given by Kyle Pimental (SRPC) and Amanda Stone (UNH Cooperative Extension) at this year’s Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA) Annual Meeting is an example of how a 15-minute timeslot was treated as a framework and not a constraint. The presentation covered a project in which staff from SRPC and UNH Cooperative Extension partnered up with two Oyster River Middle School teachers to coordinate a climate change lesson for 5th grade students and their parents.

In order to directly engage conference audience members, which were predominately planners, the opening slide was designed to tell a story of a day in the life of a planner. Descriptions included: the 7PM meeting at an unnamed town hall; an impatient planning board with a packed agenda; and the topic of sea-level rise impacts on downtown developments. The primary reason for this opening slide was to illustrate traditional audiences and to recognize that the input of parents and young children is often absent from many local land use discussions and decisions. This introduced the concept of engaging young children and using them as a conduit to reach their parents in some of these discussions outside of the typical “town hall” format. Read the full blog post here.

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