“Don’t treat every audience to the same presentation as though they were all mere listening machines. Wherever possible, make each audience think you care about them and you feel lucky or honoured to get the chance to address them.”
― Ranulph Fiennes, the explorer
Ranulph Fiennes, the explorer, raised funds for his expeditions with his presentations. He knew what made his audience tick. Presentations are intrinsic to the world of business and as a member of the corporate or entrepreneurial setup, you’ve probably given a few presentations and attended numerous others.
Have you sat through dull, boring presentations and wondered how you ended up there? Think of a presentation that changed your life. Why was it memorable and what did you gain from the information or advice? Now, turn your focus to the boring ones, and specifically, on presentations that failed in the areas of design, content or duration. Where did they go wrong? Do you fear heading down the same path when you’re charged with creating a slideshow?
Work on these 3 questions and woo your audience with your presentation the next time around.
1. Is your content tailored to your attendees?
While members of the audience like to see a professional in charge, they are not here for your performance; they are here to fulfil a specific need or goal that THEY have.
Do you homework on the crowd, especially when you’re addressing an invisible audience. Find out more about them – from demographics to interests – using online surveys. Email or interview some of the participants and get to know them better. Identify with the audience and see yourself as one of them in your mind before you create your slide deck.
2. Do you come across as a know-it-all?
If your idea of a script is a big fat lecture, ditch it. Your audience is intelligent enough, and most often, know what they need. Unless your audience is venturing into uncharted territory, and you’re offering a never-before-seen product or service, your business is just one of many options available.
“Decide you must, how to serve them best”
― Yoda (The Jedi guru)
Your success lies in being a mentor rather playing a saviour. Be the one who will help them face their fears, gently overcome their resistance, guide them in the right direction, and motivate them to take action.
3. What will they take back home?
The audience is likely to remember only three things from your presentation or speech
― Stephen Keague (The Little Red Handbook of Public Speaking and Presenting)
Win your audience over with these three things – address their pain point, underline the benefits of your product or service, and provide a viable solution that solves their pressing problem.
Know them, understand them, and develop a script that addresses their needs.
Do this, and you’ll have an engaged and enthusiastic audience.
Your valuable content will have a lasting impact on them.
All of this only happens when you change the focus of your presentation from YOU to THEM.