Tom Bunzel specializes in knowing what other presenters need and how to make technology work. He has appeared on Tech TV’s Call for Help as “Professor PowerPoint” and is a featured speaker at InfoComm and Presentation Summit each year. Tom is also a “technology coach” and does presentation and video consulting in southern California. Tom can be reached through his site, The Presentation Professor and his BunzBlog blog.
In this conversation, Tom discusses his new book, Tools of Engagement: Presenting and Training in a World of Social Media.
Geetesh: Huge changes have evolved so quickly in the world of social media, and these impact almost any presenter in some way or the other. Other than as a resource for keeping readers informed about these changes, what motivated you to author Tools of Engagement?
Tom: As I watched the emergence of MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, among other new programs I began to wonder about the impact on the presentations space where we work; and when I asked presenters at various conferences who spoke about social media, I noted that very few if any had given any thought to how their own tools would affect or inform their own talks.
At the same time I have long sensed that communicating effectively with a tool like PowerPoint, for example, involves building a connection to an audience. Speakers like Nancy Duarte, Rick Altman, Jim Endicott and others emphasize this point often and well—and it is precisely these tools that can empower a presenter to enter a room with rapport established—perhaps through a blog augmented by the social tools—and then continue the dialog with an audience after the main event is over…
It occurred to me that the very nature of presentations has changed from a single high impact event to essentially an ongoing conversation, and that audiences now expect to be part of the process at every stage and also be heard. The sometimes dreaded Backchannel of chatter during a presentation is an excellent example of this.
And on this point, when I attended an event for the Social Media Club of L.A. just before writing the book, there were two giant screens—both had the Twitter feed and NOT a PowerPoint slide show, and panelists were responding to tweets from the audience, the general public, and comments from one another.
This convinced me that a thorough examination of the nature of engagement and the tools that make it happen effectively was and is warranted, and I began writing the book.
Geetesh: How is training different from presenting, and what are the unique challenges faced by trainers coping with and taking advantage of the social media onslaught.
Tom: Briefly I see training as one particular area of presenting—namely the imparting of knowledge and/or skills while overall presenting can involve persuasion, inspiration, sales and a number of other factors or motivations.
What’s interesting is that social media in many ways has blurred the distinction between marketing and training, because learning about stuff is such a great value proposition and that is essentially the currency of social tools—providing value to others.
And when you include the trust factor, namely that people online tend to trust one another’s insights and opinions more than establishment figures or authorities, you really have the basis for education and training—when the social sphere gives you credibility you have really earned it and can impart your point of view on many issues.
Therefore, establishing a presence through a blog, active participation in other blogs, answering questions on LinkedIn, being active on Twitter and Facebook with valuable information, and so on, is an invaluable foundation for a trainer in being able to get and hold the attention of an audience.
Again, younger audiences now expect this, and failing to build rapport in this way will probably get a trainer criticized even during an event on the Backchannel.
On the other hand, effectively laying the groundwork for training through these tools, using the research garnered during the training (for example, to assess needs—precisely what does the audience want to learn?), using the tools like web conferencing geared specifically to training like Citrix GoToTraining, and finally following up on sessions afterwards with commentary and discussion on socials tools is a powerful way to make training more effective and increase ROI.
Sales presentations and the like can also certainly take advantage of these tools as well; but again, in many ways the most effective marketing now involves not selling per se, but informing about the value of a product or service, which is really training as well.
Finally I have been focusing on how our main tool, PowerPoint, can be leveraged online using video with the presenter available, hosted on a site like YouTube, and then made available through blogs and links on Facebook or Twitter, to set the stage for training, follow up on an event, or allow people to experience training who could not physically attend a specific session.
Video is a big part of the social media scene, and it’s remarkable how many videos now include slides with narration to tell a story—and this particularly significant in the training space.