Business presenting is a challenge for many people. Millions of professionals are presenting their ideas to clients and colleagues all over the world every day.
For many, it’s a challenge because they know that they can’t simply turn up and read out their slides.
Reading slides in business presenting may have been acceptable two or three decades ago but the world has changed. People want more, much more from a presenter.
In business presenting, we are paid for our knowledge, expertise, skill and credibility. You can be certain that your audience want to experience that each time you speak.
On its own however, it’s not enough.
As your audience listen to you deliver the facts, data and insights, they want something else from you.
Please Make Me Feel Something
These are the most important words in business presenting and public speaking.
Despite their significance and power, these five words are sadly, not always front of mind for some presenters.
It’s easy to make fellow professionals feel something in a business presentation. All too often, they are left feeling bored, numb, sleepy or indifferent.
That’s what happens when we believe that our only job when presenting is to deliver the data.
Our audience want the data, facts and evidence; of course they do. In fact, if you don’t deliver them you could well be fired!
They don’t however, want pure data at the expense of their emotional well being. Their intellectual minds may crave the data but their hearts are crying out for you to make them feel something too.
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. In business presenting 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
– What they need to feel to think or act differently
Please Make Me Feel Something
These five powerful words remind us of our obligation to connect with our audience emotionally as well as intellectually.
They urge us to think long and hard about the personal impact we are having on human minds each time we present.
“Begin with the end in mind.” Stephen Covey
High impact business pressenting starts with clarity of intention. In other words, we must know exactly how we want our audience to feel the moment we finish presenting.
In our training courses and coaching sessions we ask everyone we work with that one critical question;
‘How do you want your audience to feel?’
The typical response we hear are the words, ‘informed and engaged’.
Informing and enaging your audience is obvious, expected and mandatory. We are obliged to inform and engage our audience.
If you start out with the sole intention of leaving your audience feeling nothing more than ‘informed and engaged,’ you could easily bore them. That’s not the kind of feeling I’m promoting.
“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.”
How do we make our audience feel something?
It starts with clarity of our intention. How do you want them to feel?
With that clarity we then ensure that everything we 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.
– 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 business presenting. How can we begin to connect with our audience if they don’t feel as though we like them? It really is one of the most effective ways of connecting with anyone.
Before you utter a single word please remember to smile.
“In ancient China, the Taoists taught that a constant inner smile to oneself, insured health, happiness and longevity. Why? Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself. “
I don’t mean candlelight, prosecco and violins.
Create a personal conversation. Your audience 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.
Show them who you are; don’t hide behind the ‘corporate cloak’.
Most people don’t really enjoy going to business presentations but everyone likes a good, personal conversation.
“All problems exist in the absence of a good conversation.”
One route to creating a little intamcy is self-disclosure. This article in MindTools suggests that, ‘If you get it right, it can strengthen relationships, instill trust, and boost your ability to inspire and lead.‘
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.
Take 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 you. Your audience want you to see someone who is just like you and has feelings too.
“Eye contact is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to make a person feel recognized, understood and validated.”
AJ Harbinger, Art of Charm
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. Lett them move; let them speak.
Please don’t’ cross your legs or stand rigid in one fixed spot, move a little. I don’t mean sway or pace; move meaningfully. Let your body speak too.
If you are talking about the future, step into the future. When you are referring to the past, 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.
“Self-expression is the dominant necessity of human nature.” Dale Carnegie
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.
““Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” Elbert Hubbard
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 sharing data. 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.
In business presenting 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.
“Words go into the body, so they cause us to be well and hopeful and happy and high energy and wondrous and funny and cheerful.” Maya Angelou
Create relationships not listeners
Business presenting today 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.
Presenting is arguably quite easy. People all over the world are doing it every day with varying levels of confidence, clarity and impact.
Your audience don’t want to be presented to. They want you to connect with them. The only way to do that is to remember at all times, they are crying out for you to:
Please Make Me Feel Something
If you’d like to learn how to make people feel something in business presenting:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
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