The biggest mistake when presenting… is to assume the audience is automatically interested in your topic.
Sometimes it’s hard to distance ourselves from a subject we are very passionate about. We make the mistake of thinking that others are equally interested and that they care about what we are saying. Perhaps they do care, perhaps they don’t. Perhaps they should care, but the reality is, they often don’t.
Basically, there are three reasons why people listen to something:
- They have a benefit to gain from doing so
- They will lose something by not listening
- They are genuinely interested in the topic
If you want to impact your presentation audience, never leave the choice of listening up to them.
Make sure they listen to your message by using at least one of these strategies:
- Tell them WHY they should listen to you right at the beginning.
- Tell them what they can GAIN from adopting your idea or taking the action want them to.
- Tell them what they can LOSE by not listening to you.
And whichever approach choose, it goes without saying that you need to make your arguments convincing. As well as preparing a tight, logical and coherent argument, make sure you appeal to them as human beings.
- Use language that appeals to emotions.
- Use real life examples that demonstrate the pain or gain of not listening to you.
Of course, when presenting, you are in control of your message. But have you ever thought to what extent you should be in control of your audience listening to that message?
From the moment you open your mouth to speak to present, your work is to keep your audience engaged.
If you haven’t thought about exactly why the audience should listen to you in the presentation preparation stage, and you don’t spell it out to them when delivering it, your key message will not be communicated. Your presentation will be destined to go the way of many before you – to be forgotten about as soon as the audience walks out the door.
So, make the audience the centre of your presentation universe.
Make it easy for the audience to listen to you and to understand why they should listen to you.
Remember, the audience is the heroes in your presentation, not you. It is them who will be responsible for spreading your message and initiating the changes you are advocating in your talk.