Presentation vs. Conversation: How to Decide What Type of Meeting You Need

In case you haven’t noticed, we kind of like talking about meetings. Okay, we admit it: we really like talking about meetings.

Meetings are a powerful way to be productive. They can be conversations about an objective or they can be presentations where a host seeks to inform or persuade the audience. But when it comes to planning your meetings, how do you decide whether you need to give a presentation or facilitate a conversation?

First, you’ll need to decide on your meeting goal. What do you need to get from your audience during your time with them? Do you need to persuade or inform them about an objective, or do you wish to receive real-time feedback?

To help you decide which communication approach to take, use this guide to carefully map out what you’re trying to accomplish before you hit send on your next meeting request:

When to Present:

-There’s a need to communicate an idea that is already formed.

-You already have information about the audience’s needs and wants.

-Your goal is to inform or persuade an audience.

-There’s no need for real-time feedback.

-You simply need a single event to get move your audience toward your objective.

When to Converse:

-You need continuous engagement with a group to accomplish your objective.

-You need more information about what your audience needs or wants.

-There’s a need for group input before moving forward with an idea.

-You need to build a personal relationship with the audience.

Far too often presentations go awry because the communication goal is not clearly defined. This leads to a presentation that’s long-winded, leaving the audience with lingering questions. Presentations are a powerful tool, but unfortunately, they can’t be the Swiss Army knife of communication. If you plan to persuade or inform a fully developed idea, then a presentation is the way to go.

If you’re looking for interactive, give-and-take engagement, then a conversation about an objective is more appropriate and effective. To make the conversation successful, it’s all about how you facilitate the meeting.

The facilitation of a conversation can be difficult as you’ll deal with conflicting viewpoints and many voices, but there are a few collaboration techniques to make sure you develop a productive meeting about your idea:

Old School Collaboration:

Sometimes, it pays off to revert back to an old school way of thinking. Convincing everyone to put down the laptop or cell phone and engage in a brainstorm session can be tough. But to encourage participants to get fully involved, use sticky notes, white boards or flip charts to gather ideas instead of having someone take notes on a laptop.

This type of kinesthetic learning encourages movement through standing, writing and physically shifting your ideas into place. This recently worked swimmingly for our team. With a big project on our hands, we decided to nix the laptops and head to a conference room with two tools: giant Post-It® notes and markers. We collaborated together like this for a few hours—writing down ideas, rehashing them, moving notes around on the wall—and I can honestly say this meeting was one of our more productive ones.

New School Collaboration:

Sometimes, technology is a necessity when collaborating. While working together in person is extremely beneficial, sometimes parts of the team you need to work with may be remote or in a different location. That’s where online meeting tools, like PGi’s iMeet® come into play.

During the meeting I just mentioned, we had a team member, who works from our Austin office, join us through iMeet. She was able to participate in the brainstorm through the video and audio conferencing features in iMeet. Though she was unable to physically be there to participate, her voice was still heard thanks to the online meeting tool.

Of course, presentations can go a long way in bringing people toward a common idea. But if you’re not confident that the idea is fully developed, then consider having a conversation with colleagues. Use the collaboration technique that works best for your team to move toward a cohesive idea that you’ll feel ready to present.

If your idea is fully formed and ready to be presented, download our free eBook, The Little Black Book of Presentations and check out some tips and tricks to make your presentation successful.

Still in the collaboration phase and need an online meeting tool to help facilitate the conversation? Try PGi’s iMeet free for 30 days.

About Andrea D.

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