Business presenting is easy. Millions of professionals are presenting their ideas to clients and colleagues all over the world every day.
For many it’s perceived as easy because they believe that all they have to do is read. To enter any organisation today the ability to read is of course a fundamental prerequisite. You’ve seen it for yourself I’m sure; extremely intelligent, creative and talented business professionals reading their slides or management report to you.
Anyone can do that, it’s easy.
It may have been acceptable two or three decades ago but the world has changed. People want more, much more from a presenter.
In business we are paid for our knowledge, expertise, skill and credibility and you can be certain that your audience want to see that each time you speak.
On its own however, it’s not enough.
The moment they sit to listen to you deliver the facts, data and insights there is only one thing on their mind.
Please Make Me Feel Something
These are the most important words in business presenting or public speaking of any kind. Despite their significance and power these five words are sadly the last thing on a presenter’s mind in business today.
It’s easy to make fellow professionals feel something in a business presentation. All too often we make them feel bored, numb, sleepy or indifferent.
In meeting rooms all over the world business professionals have been taught from the first day that they start work that their only job when presenting is to deliver the data.
Please Make Me Feel Something
These five words change everything. They reframe the way we see our audience, our content and our message. They challenge us to stop and really think. They compel us to be mindful about:
– Who our audience is
– How they feel now about the topic
– Why the topic is relevant and personal to them
– How we want them to feel and why they should care
Those five words remind us of our obligation to stop doing what everyone else does, to challenge the status quo and to stand out from the crowd.
They urge us to think long and hard about the personal impact we are having on human minds each time we call them together to a presentation.
“Begin with the end in mind.” Stephen Covey
High impact, mindful presentations always start with one thing; clarity of intention. In other words, we know exactly how we want our audience to feel the moment we finish speaking to them.
Tragically the typical response we hear are the words, ‘informed and engaged’.
It’s a tragic response because its obvious, expected and mandatory. It goes without saying that we are obliged to inform and engage our audience; otherwise we are wasting and disrespecting their time.
If you start out with the sole intention of leaving your audience feeling informed and engaged you will bore them. If that’s all you really want from them then simply send them an email.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
If our audience is truly sitting there with their minds quietly screaming out to themselves, ‘Please make me feel something’ then the first question you may ask yourself is, how? How do I make them feel something?
Once you have absolute clarity of your intention you then have to ensure that everything you say, show and do is congruent with that intention.
Here are a few simple suggestions to set you off on your way.
The moment you smile you send a message to your audience that you like them, you’re a nice person, you care and that you are happy to speak to them.
Smiling is one of the most underrated elements of public speaking and presenting, especially in business. How can you even begin to connect with your audience if they don’t feel as though you like them?
Smiling is one of the most effective ways of connecting with your audience.
I don’t mean candlelight, prosecco and violins.
I mean, create a personal conversation. They have come to connect with you not your PowerPoint slides. This doesn’t mean you have to tell them all of your deep dark secrets. It simply means being prepared to be a little vulnerable and let them see the real you.
Get closer to your audience by letting them know how you feel and think and where the connection between you is.
Nobody likes going to business presentations but everyone likes a good, personal conversation.
Look them in the eye
Do you trust, believe or connect with someone if they don’t look at you when they are speaking to you?
Your audience need you to connect with them through eye contact. I don’t mean scanning the room, glancing around or staring at them. I mean taking a moment to look them in the eyes so that they know that you can see them. They don’t want you to simply see a body sitting there listening to them, they want you to see someone who is just like you and has feelings.
Please don’t ever let anyone tell you to stand still when you are presenting to an audience or speaking in public. Movement represents energy and visual stimulation to your audience.
Don’t clasp your hands, put them behind your back or trap them in your pockets, let them move; let them speak.
Don’t’ cross your legs or stand rigid in one fixed spot, move a little. I don’t mean sway or pace, I mean move meaningfully. Let your body speak too.
If you are talking about the future, step into the future. If you are referring to the past then step back into the past.
If you are passionate, excited or even concerned then be sure to tell your face. Let your face speak too.
Being professional doesn’t mean you have to be deadly serious all of the time. Lighten up, relax a little and don’t take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to tell your audience jokes to make them laugh but a little humour will go a long way to helping them feel good and connect with you.
Often the best and most effective way to use humour is to share your own personal experiences. A funny anecdote, conversation or incident that relates to your topic will appeal to your audience and make you more endearing.
Make it emotional
Your ultimate challenge as a presenter is to connect with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually. You are unlikely to achieve that by simply explaining data. You need to get them emotionally involved in what you have to say.
Stories, compelling images and short powerful videos can help you. Building a little suspense, curiosity and even drama where you can will also serve you well.
When we are presenting in business, we have a far greater challenge than simply getting our audiences attention. We have to capture, their interest, curiosity and emotions too. It’s not just something we have to do as part of our opening either we have to keep it up throughout our entire presentation.
The only way you can do that is to make them feel something.
Create relationships not listeners
One of the biggest problems with business presenting today is that it is still largely focused on imparting knowledge and information rather than connecting.
When you create a platform for one-way communication you also creative a huge divide between you and your audience. Once you have clarity of your intention and you know exactly how you want to make your audience feel then set out to create relationships rather than listeners.
Remember, presenting is easy. People all over the world are doing it every day with varying levels of confidence and clarity.
People don’t want to be presented to, they want you to connect with them and they only way to do that is to remember at all times that in their minds they are crying out for you to:
Please Make Me Feel Something
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