“Yay! A presentation!” Said no one ever.
Whether you’ve presented to an audience hard-pressed to glance up from their phones or been presented TO by a version of the monotone high school economics teacher Mr. Lorensax, in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” – NO one wants to be there.
And I get it. After 20 years of leading presentation coaching, I can honestly say it’s never been harder to give or receive presentations. Here’s what you’re up against:
All of this “noise” competing for everyone’s time and attention. So I’m going to propose a radical idea.
Presenting doesn’t work because it is a passive act between the presenter and the audience. Talking and being talked AT. We are requiring nothing of each other.
Instead, I coach clients to start PERSUADING.
Think about it. Every presentation is (or at least SHOULD be) an exercise in persuasion: getting your audiences to know, think or do something differently as a result of hearing you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be presenting right? (By the way, if your answer is “No. I just want to generate buzz or drive awareness,” that’s an email distribution, not a presentation).
To persuade, step away from the PPT slides (IF you use a PPT at all. Mind-blown, right)? And start with strategy. Think about this as a strategic opportunity to move your idea, business or reputation forward. What do you want to achieve by sharing this information? What do you want to communicate? And what do you want your audience to do as a result of hearing you (think of the calories you want them to burn)?
Speaking of your audience, who are they? What do they care about? What are the benefits to them if they do what you want them to do? Focusing on this is critical to creating persuasive content. Otherwise, you’ll be throwing spaghetti at the wall and just hoping something sticks.
You’ll be surprised at how having a clear strategy helps you engage with and persuade your audiences. Example in point: this TEDtalk by Michael Pritchard, inventor of the LifeSaver Water Bottle. I use this example frequently to help clients identify 1) what his strategy is and 2) how it informs every piece of information he shares and actions he takes to unite his audience in a compelling call to action – all within nine minutes (and all without PPT or jargon-infused language!)
Strategy connects presenter and presentee. It breaks through the daily barrage of information and persuades audiences to pay attention – and act. Persuasion makes everyone’s time worth it.
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