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Volume 6, Issue 2


Use SPARQ to Energize Presentations

Imagine you come back to work from a long vacation, and someone asks you what you did. You're not going to sit there and list your schedule, hour-by-hour. Instead, you might show them a picture, tell them something you learned or share a funny story.

The same theory applies to your presentations, says Steve Hughes, founder of Hit Your Stride and a recent CASE webinar presenter. If you want your audience to take away the most from your presentation, you have to grab and keep their attention.

"Whatever the challenges [of the presentation] are, using narrative and storytelling when you present will help you [grab attention]," says Hughes.

An effective presenter should use Hughes' "SPARQ" technique throughout a presentation. Here's how he describes the core elements:

Surprising statistic. When you start your presentation in an expected way, like introducing yourself, your audience will tune out immediately. Instead, introduce the presentation with something they don't see coming: a surprising statement or statistic related to your presentation.

Photo or video. Using a photo or video can help communicate your message to the audience. If using a video, remember that shorter is better. Let your audience know in advance how long the video is.

Anecdote. If you can tell a story that humanizes a situation or makes it more personal, tell the story. Be brief;  use just enough details and get the job done.

Real example. This is different from a story. It is more like an analogy or illustration of a problem.

Question or quote. Whether rhetorical or one you want answered, a question that starts your presentation can instantly draw people in. You can also use a quote, so long as it pertains to your message.

Hughes will speak on "Influence: The Art and Science of Changing Minds" at the Conference for Community College Advancement, Oct. 5-7, in San Diego.


This article is from the August 2016 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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