“To understand someone, walk a mile in their shoes.”
And to understand your audience, spend an hour in their seat, watching the presentation that you’re about to give.
Here is the mistake most presenters make: they believe that their presentation will be interesting to others because it is interesting to them. They think that if the material is good, then the presentation will be good. But that is just not true.
A presentation is, in effect, an attempt to influence the thinking and behavior of your audience. And the masters of influence are the professions of Marketing and Advertising. To a marketer, the most dreaded words are, “The product is so good it, it sells itself.” They know that no product, no matter how good, sells itself. All products need carefully planned and well executed communication strategies. So how does that relate to your presentations?
No presentation is so good that it “sells itself”. As presenters, we need to engage our audiences in the same way that marketers engage theirs. The formula is simple. WIIFM. “What’s In It For Me?” Marketers focus not on the product’s features but on its benefits, i.e. how it will directly benefit the customer. Top companies don’t promote their products by listing all the technical features but they do show how their products can make our lives better.
And this is where as presenters, we have to “put on the shoes” of our audience. What benefit will they get from your presentation? What problem of theirs does it solve? What opportunity does it offer them? Will it make their jobs easier? Will it help them achieve their goals?
Become clear about the benefit to your audience and lead with that. Once they know how they will benefit, most of your job is done. They will be engaged. Remind them of it from time to time and you will have their attention until the end.
Of course, there is more to the picture. How you create your slides is critical. Proper body language is vital. And the way you use your voice is perhaps the most important of all.
However, without this particular piece, without telling your audience clearly what’s in it for them, the rest simply does not matter. They will not be engaged.
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes, earn their full attention by making your material relevant to them specifically, and your presentations will become vastly more effective.