Presentation Tip: What Your Audience Wants

The Power of Perspective

Nothing will help you step up your presentation game faster than walking in the shoes of your audience. At some point in your life, you’ve been in the audience of a presentation, a workshop, a lecture, a class or a speech. Think back — you’re in that audience. What did you want? Did you want the speaker to:

•  Talk about things that mattered to you?

•  Know what they were talking about and give you solid info you could trust?

•  Care more about meeting your needs and connecting with you than anything else in that moment?

•  Create an atmosphere to help you stay focused and energized?

If your answer is “yes” to any or all of those questions, that’s something to pay attention to. There’s power in perspective; knowing what works for you as an audience member can help you deliver as a presenter. I submit that your audiences want the same things as you do when you’re in the audience. They love it when you:

•  Are real.

•  Talk about stuff they relate to, need or want.

•  Talk conversationally with them eyeball to eyeball.

•  Speak up so they can hear you.

•  Keep things simple and easy to follow.

•  Speak with energy and passion from your heart.

•  Make it interactive.

•  Talk with them instead of the slides, the floor or the air.

•  Are funny (true funny, not fake funny, and if it’s appropriate to be funny).

•  Give them something new that makes their lives better.

Don’t you love it when a presenter does that for you?

— Carol

Tales from the Field

Tales from the Field

Well, this year I ran the Boston Marathon — my first marathon. I was at mile 13 and feeling really awful, and I was ready to quit. As anyone who has run long distances knows, marathoning is mostly a mental game. I needed to snap out of it, and quickly. It dawned on me that I was giving a lecture later that week in Boston, and I needed to practice. I know you guys emphasize practicing out loud — that thinking about what you’re going to say is about as effective as thinking about going to the gym. So, I decided to practice my lecture out loud for all those around me to hear from mile 13 to mile 18 (about 40 minutes). It was exactly what I needed to get me through that low point. I ended up completing the race in 3:37, and the lecture turned out to be very successful. Several months later I ran the 2015 NYC Marathon, and I was moderating a panel later that week. Hopefully, all 50,000 runners enjoyed that rehearsal too! My big takeaway? Practicing out loud works. Find the time and just do it!

Brent Robertson, Partner

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