My drive is for presentations to be remembered, so that the amazing things people have to share and teach and talk about will not be “lost in time like tears in rain.” One way to help the audience is to have something that stands out as basis from which the talk can be reconstructed after leaving the auditorium. Nancy Duarte in her meisterwerk “Resonate” calls this a STAR moment- Something They will Always Remember. (this is FREE online!)
A STAR moment can be a spoken challenge; “everything you know about this is wrong.” It might be a dramatic fact; “after hearing this presentation you will never view presentations the same way again.” It might be something physical like the act of breathing used as an analogy. It might be the audience dressing up. Each of these STAR moments should be remarkable, that is, cause the audience to remark. From that point they have a starting point on the journey that they have been lead by your presentation and, ideally, they should be able to recreate the key message.
In a recent presentation I gave to Paediatricians on Paediatric Surgical problems my aim was to encourage them to think like surgeons. I recognised that whilst everyone has been in a surgical department this is often many years earlier. To try to jog memories and as a STAR moment I gave every audience member a surgical cap and mask and got them to put these on and try to “think like a surgeon.” It was simple, engaged the whole audience and was amusing. Hopefully it was memorable. From that simple action I believe the audience could in future return to that room and regather the message of “thinking like a surgeon” having been dressed as one even for just five minutes.
The potential value of a STAR moment is clear but it is essential that it connects to the message and is not simply something that shocks or is odd. There must be consideration of alternative interpretations of the STAR moment that may distract from the message. There is a risk of patronising or confusing an audience and care must be taken that the purpose is clear to the audience not simply as entertainment. The purpose is to be able to remember the message, not simply the STAR moment.
For a presentation to be memorable there is value in considering adding a STAR moment. Clearly dressing up isn’t ideal for a major scientific meeting or business case but at least now you are thinking of alternatives! Make your presentation memorable.