If you are a professional presenting in business today, it’s likely that you will focus on delivering facts, knowledge, insights, and information. That sounds perfectly reasonable, of course; after all, isn’t that the point of business and all we need to present to succeed?
Ordinarily that would be fine, but the world we live in today is extraordinary, so it’s not enough. We have all spent the last 20 years living in the information age where it’s never been easy to get the facts, knowledge, insights, and information for ourselves. As the relentless drive to share information continues, we are entering a whole new age.
I call it the connectivity age.
Every week, I speak with professionals who tell me that they are overwhelmed with information. That information is coming from endless meetings, presentations, and emails which absorb so much of their time that they can’t do what they are paid to do: work. As bad as that may sound, what is far worse is the fact that many end each day feeling numb. They used to feel stressed, frustrated, and tired, but now they leave worked just dazed.
When it comes to presenting and communicating with each other in meetings, professionals in businesses all over the world are crying out for a revolution.
Yes, they want the information.
Yes, they want the facts.
Yes, they want knowledge.
Yes, they want insights.
That will never change, but the time has come when they want all of that wrapped up in something very few presenters are currently offering.
They want you to help them to feel something. They want to connect with you on a human, emotional, and personal level.
Dumping data on colleagues and clients has become the organisational plague of the 21st Century, and it has to stop now.
If you want to play your part in leading the revolution, then the process begins by focusing on connecting instead of presenting.
The journey begins here.
1. Start with the end in mind
Whether you are presenting a quarterly update in your management meeting, giving a team briefing, or making a sales pitch, the very first question you need to ask and answer is, “What do I want my audience to feel?”
2. Lighten up
Being professional doesn’t mean you have to be deadly serious all the time. Lose the “corporate spokesperson” and lighten up a little. No one likes a “slick” presenter who is so polished they have memorized and acted out every word. Take your message seriously, but focus on relaxing too by using a little humor and crafting a conversation instead of a lecture.
3. Change the way you look at things
I once heard one of my favourite speakers, the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, say, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I believe that when many professionals are presenting, they often see:
- Their audience as predators and themselves as prey
- Fellow employees from the marketing, finance, IT department, etc.
- The boss and senior management
The best way to connect with your audience is to see beyond their roles and positions and see them as:
- Someone’s son or daughter
- Someone’s brother or sister
- A mother or father
- Someone with hopes and dreams
- Someone with fears and anxieties
- Someone who wants you to help them
- Someone you care about and want to help
4. Imagine this
Before you open your mouth to speak, take a deep breath, pause for a moment, and imagine every single person in the audience wearing a big bright neon badge.
The badge holds the letters PPPMMFS.
Those letters stand for: Please, Please, Please Make Me Feel Something.
5. Put yourself in their shoes
Empathy is the key to connecting with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually. The route to making that connection is through stepping in their shoes for a while.
Spend some time thinking about:
- What it could be like to be in their roles
- The challenges, pressures, and difficulties they face
- What they worry about the most
- What working in an industry and business like theirs must feel like
- What they are desperate for to make their lives easier or better
- If they could ask you for one huge favour what would it be
6. Give them the gold
Instead of trying to show your audience how clever you are, how much you know, and how hard you’ve worked, just give them the gold.
In other words, don’t make them dig through the data and bullet points to find the little nuggets of gold that will make a real difference to them. Do the digging for them and just give them the valuable nuggets they came for.
7. Make it personal
There is nothing worse than a generic presentation which basically offers a plethora of information that could apply to anyone or any business. Make sure that everything you say and every slide you choose to show is personal, relevant, and of value to your audience. The sanity check is asking the question, “So what?”
Whatever you choose to share with your audience, keep in mind that if anyone stops you to ask “Thank you, but so what? Why should I care about that?” you have a good answer.
8. Lose the “head stuff”
When it’s not the content, the message, or the purpose of the presentation which numbs the audience, it’s the speaker’s very own “head stuff.”
Here is what I mean by “head stuff”:
- What if they don’t like me?
- What if they ask me a question I can’t answer?
- I’m so nervous and such a terrible speaker.
- I feel like a fraud because I’m sure they know more than I do.
- What if I freeze?
- My entire reputation depends on this.
If all the while you are presenting to your audience with some of these thoughts running through your head, you are doing both yourself and your audience a huge disservice.
Do whatever it takes to stop the noise by using breathing techniques, meditating, visualizing, or challenging these thoughts.
The more you focus on yourself, the more you are telling your audience that your presentation is all about you rather than them.
Lose the “head stuff” and make it all about your audience.
The future of high-impact presenting
We’ve had “death by bullet point,” we’ve had the monotone voice and the “data dumps,” and some of the biggest and most successful brands in the world are still seeing them all every week.
The future of high-impact presenting entails making an emotional connection. Those who continue to simply present information without helping their audience to feel something will be left behind.
Following these 8 tips will go a long way to helping you to make your audience feel something.
Featured photo credit: Elen33 | Dreamstime.com via dreamstime.com