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8 Ways to Stop Presenting and Start Connecting

8 Ways to Stop Presenting and Start Connecting

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.

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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.

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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
  • Clients

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.

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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.”

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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

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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