3 simple tools to transform your presentations
If you are a speaker or you deliver presentations and updates as part of your work, I want to help you. So I’m afraid I have to start off with an uncomfortable truth:
– Your audience doesn’t really care about you or what you have to say –
I know, this might come as a bit of a shock and you may be thinking “yes they do, why else would they come to hear me speak?”
Well, let’s set aside the fact that a lot of people in the business world turn up to talks because they have to – their boss asked them to, it’s expected of them, they need to get CPD points or they need to network. To keep it simple let’s just focus on those people that have voluntarily chosen, possibly even paid, to hear you speak. Surely they care about you and what you’re going to say?
No, they don’t. Unless you’re a rock star with fans that would happily turn up to watch you read out of a telephone directory, they don’t care about you. All your audience truly cares about is:
“What’s in it for me?”
“How can what you say or do help me?”
“How will this information improve my performance, business or life?”
In truth they are thinking of themselves. “Oh, of course, that’s obvious” you may be thinking. Yes perhaps it is. But then let me ask you this – why is it that vast majority of business presentations start off with a long introduction about the speaker and/or his company? Do you think the audience is genuinely interested in hearing about your background, how many offices you have worldwide or what your company mission statement is?!
Maybe….but not until they understand what you can do for them. We live in an age where we are bombarded with information – through free newspapers, social media, TV, news sites; and our brains cannot absorb it all. So we cope by sifting through and filtering information according to whether it is interesting, relevant or helpful to us; anything else gets a cursory glance at best.
Your audience will be filtering what you say in the same way. Until they see the relevance of what you are sharing with them, all that stuff about you is just extraneous data that will go in one ear and out the other.
Now, of course it is important that the audience knows something about you and your company so that you can establish your credibility and expertise. However timing and structure is important here.
So, with that in mind, here are 3 things you can do that will instantly transform your business presentations:
- When preparing a presentation our instinct is to ask ourselves “what do I want to say?” You need to turn that question on its head and ask yourself: “what does my audience need to hear?” Let that be the driving force that guides you as you write your content.
- The first words that come your of your mouth when you speak should be the answer to the audience’s question “why should I care?” Do not start by saying “Hi, my name is x, I work for x, we do x…..” This is the kind of dry intro that your audience will have heard a thousand times before and will immediately send their brains into sleep mode. Be bold and jump straight in with a piece of interesting information that will make them want to sit up and listen to you.
- Once you’ve made it clear to the audience why they should listen to you, then (and only then) you can talk about you and/or your company. However when you do so, don’t just give them a generic intro written by your marketing team. Be strategic: tailor the overview of you and your company to highlight the things that matter to that specific audience.
Bottom line, always put your audience first and your success as a speaker will follow. And these 3 small shifts will make all the difference not only for formal presentations but any time you are speaking or giving an update to your team or managers. But, don’t just talk my word for it, test these 3 techniques out for yourself and see what a difference they can make for you.