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Picture this: You’ve got your team gathered. You’ve got a list of safety topics and you have slides packed with useful data. There’s just one problem: your audience is checked out from the first slide.
Here’s the thing: you could have the most useful safety information available and it won’t do you any good if your audience isn’t engaged.
The trick is knowing how to get their attention (and deliver the information they need). Here are three tips to help you create an effective safety topics presentation.
Start by shaking up your approach to your safety topics presentation. Put away the PowerPoint slides (for now). Break out the drawing board. Get creative.
If you recite the same set of health and safety facts, your employees are going to tune out, just like they may always have. They’re expecting the same old presentation. They’ll pay attention if you give them something different.
Your job is to get people to imagine. One way to drive home the point is a simple exercise with a dollar bill.
Get out your wallet, pull out a dollar bill, show it to your listeners, give them a moment to inspect it, then put it out of sight and ask them to describe the bill. Chances are, they can only describe the most obvious details, even after you show them the bill.
The point is simple: if they’re missing so many details on a little green slip of paper, how many details are they missing in a dynamic work environment? Then, segway into exercises to improve their workplace observational skills.
One of the best ways to bring your listeners into the presentation is to incorporate humor (in a non-cringe worthy way). Laughter has been shown to bring people together, making a group think of each other more positively.
Humor also makes it easier to discuss serious topics, like workplace safety, provided that you take the right approach to humor.
One way to do this is to use funny photos or videos to illustrate mistakes. Not gross ones, mind you - funny ones. The idea is to get the room to laugh, then get them to elaborate on how serious a workplace accident could have been. The humor gets their attention and makes them more likely to internalize the message.
Encourage Two-Way Discussions
It seems obvious, but two-way discussions are infinitely more useful than monologues in safety training. Almost anything that deviates from the standard lecture-style presentation is more likely to register with your audience.
One basic way to start the discussion is by asking three questions:
However, remember our last two points: get creative, and incorporate humor.
Start with a personal analogy. Tell a story about yourself or the department. Then, encourage employees to tell their own stories. From there, you can segway those analogies into your safety points.
Building a safety meeting is not for the faint of heart. You’re not just presenting financial numbers or selling a product – you’re sharing information with your colleagues that could save lives.
The trick, as a presenter, is creating a safety presentation that your team actually listens to and learns from.
The good news is that you can engage even the most withdrawn room, provided that you have the right tools for the task. Here are a few to help get you started.
If you want to improve your presentation, start with the basics: practice.
Of course, as a safety professional (and likely a leader in your department) it can be difficult to find the time in a day to practice your presentation, much less practice it multiple times. But if you really want to impress your audience, practice really does make perfect.
This is especially true if you’re a nervous presenter or not naturally extroverted. If either of those applies to you, winging it is a recipe for stammering, rambling, and losing your train of thought (a.k.a. the essential ingredients for a boring, uninformative presentation).
Start by writing a script. You don’t have to type every word you’ll say, but having a pretty clear outline that makes it easy to work through all your key points is helpful.
Then, practice your speech out loud. There’s no better way to ferret out phrases that trip you up. If your goal is to speak without the text, practice with the text until you can comfortably repeat the text without any hiccups, then gradually wean yourself off the script. But keep the script with you for your presentation, just in case nerves set in.
Focus on Your Audience, Not Yourself
Once you’ve got your half of the presentation ironed out, it’s time to focus on the real star of the show: your audience.
Despite the fact that everyone is looking at the presenter, the real center of attention is the audience. After all, the presenter is there to teach the audience or convince them of something, which means that the best presenters are the ones who focus on delivering value for their listeners.
This is especially true of safety presentations, where your aim is to teach colleagues how to work safely.
How do you focus on the audience?
Start by focusing on what you want them to take away from this presentation. Think about what they should learn by the time you’re done talking. This allows you to focus on content and tailor your content for that purpose, instead of focusing on how you look or sound.
Have a Secondary Goal
Let’s say that you’re giving your safety presentation. You went in thinking the content will be a winner, but as you talk, it becomes increasingly clear that your presentation is falling flat.
At this point, most people do one of two things: try too hard to make up the gap, or give up.
The best way to rally a faltering presentation is to plan ahead. You know your primary goal, but if that primary goal isn’t translating, have a secondary goal in mind so that you can shift the presentation so that your audience walks away with something.
Here’s the good news: when you get in the swing of delivering a memorable, interactive presentation, your next safety presentation will be that much easier.
The key to a better safety presentation is simple: know what you’re trying to accomplish and make plans for the presentation centered around that goal. Once you do that, it becomes that much easier to build an effective presentation (and a more effective safety meeting overall).
If you need more advice to make your next meeting a success, make sure to check out our blog for more great posts, like these eight tips to share at your next safety meeting.
Since 2009, the team at EHS Insight have been on a mission to make the world a better place. Join us by subscribing to our Blog and receive updates on what’s new in the world of EHS, our software and other related topics.
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