Whether the purpose of your presentation is to persuade, connect, inform or simply to share a few ideas to a small audience around a boardroom table, in Zoom or to an audience in an auditorium, there are some key, universal skills that can move audiences from being largely disinterested to becoming your biggest advocate.
Think of a presentation you recently attended. What made you tune in and what made you tune out? I am pretty certain that at the top of your list of what made you tune out was a lack of relevance and value. On the converse what may have made this presentation a standout, a breakthrough in communication was that the presenter didn't tell you what you already know. When a presenter is committed to his/her audience, recognises that the audience deserves the absolute best of him/her and is grateful for the gift of their audience's time, they have their relevance radar on perpetually. They ensure that, in Chris Anderson's words (Head of TED), "They have something worth saying, that matters deeply to you." Value and relevance are your portable skills for when you are 'performing' in town hall presentations or presenting to a group of fellow colleagues.
We are competing for the attention of very distracted audiences, another reason to ensure we deliver value and relevance in each presentation. Over and above value and relevance, the first question going through your audience’s mind, the minute you start speaking, is “Why should I listen to you?”. Thus, your credibility is pivotal to the success of your presentation. Knowing your subject is more important than knowing your script. In addition, your ability to tell stories is critical. The art of providing your audience with a narrative, that is purposeful, is far better than reciting or regurgitating a learnt script. People love stories. Stories can crystalise the business case and bring boring technical information to life. Stories are memorable and create shifts across all presentation platforms. We can shift from the transmission of information to the inspiration of communication through stories. Information and data shifts to knowledge, which shifts to wisdom and through authentic story telling we find our artistry - a unique way of getting our message across, that resonates. Audiences start paying attention. They shift from disinterested to advocate through the conviction of your story or stories.
I have created for presenters, presenting across multiple platforms - whether seated or standing, virtual or in person, co-presenting or presenting solo. This checklist, consisting of ten questions, should provide you with a really good guide to ensuring that your audience buys into you and that you connect with them. These questions will help you to establish unquestionable credibility, early into your presentation and ensure that your stories are relevant and valuable and that your message sticks and sticks like glue.