9 Great Presentation Tips to Influence Any Audience

audience looking very surprised

Life is full of great presentation tips.

As a child my parents invested enormous energy trying hard to influence so much of my behaviour.

At school, it seemed my teachers roles extended way beyond my academic development. They also had a plan to influence my thoughts and behaviour. Even my friends seemed to have their own agendas of influence.

At work, the plot continued. My boss, colleagues and clients all had some influence on me.

It didn’t stop there

Every time I picked up a newspaper, turned the TV on or opened an email it continued. It seemed that he whole world had colluded to have their impact.

Today, as the founder of Mindful Presenter Ltd, I believe I now understand the power of influence. More importantly, how to use it.

Every presentation offers an opportunity to alter perceptions and it’s all due to influence.

These 9 great presentation tips will help you to connect with your audience.

1. Ask them

My mother-in-law’s favourite saying is, ‘common sense isn’t very common anymore’. When I manage to get past any personal reference, I understand what she means. When it comes to presenting public speaking it seems very clear to me.

The best way to influence your audience is by asking them directly what it would take to do so. It’s a simple idea within every presenter’s gift. Despite that, how many of us have the level of mindfulness or courage to actually do it.

Try it for yourself. You’ll be surpised at the impact the answers you receive will have on the way you craft your presentation. Ask them three questions:

– How can I help you and make a difference to you on this topic/issue?

– What questions, frustrations, and challenges would you like me to address?

– What are the 3 most important areas you would like me to cover in my presentation?

2. Use ‘because’

Dr. Ellen Langer, the social psychologist, suggested back in the late 1970’s that the human brain is conditioned to respond when it hears the word ‘because’. Dr Langer, together with fellow researchers organised an experiment using different ways of making a request to make photocopies.

Asking people to let the researcher jump the queue for the photocopier without giving a reason was successful 60% of the time. However, when they added a reason using the word ‘because’ it jumped to over 90%.

When I’m coaching presentation skills I may say:

–  Making eye contact is a powerful means of connecting with your audience, because it conveys confidence and allows them to see how much you care.

Of course, you don’t have to rely on such a dated piece of research to believe its efficacy. Next time you present an idea, try asking your audience to do something without giving them a good reason.

3. ‘Birds of a feather flock together’

This is an old saying we have all heard countless times before and for good reason, it’s true.

People who are alike and share common ground generally enjoy each other’s company. They are also more likely to respond more positively to requests.

There is a simple, yet extremely powerful truth in this for presenters. We become more mindful about exactly who our audience are and the similarities we share.

Tell them what you have in common. Show them why you care about the topic as much as they do.

4. Don’t make them work

Today’s audiences are highly intelligent and discerning people. They expect a great deal from anyone taking up their valuable time. The one thing they won’t forgive you for is ambiguity. Many presenters make their audience’s work much too hard. A presenters lack of clarity is very frustrating.

Demonstrate to your audience that you know what you are talking about and have got your facts straight. In our public speaking workshops we coach our clients to deliver even the most complex presentation in just 90 seconds. If you don’t want your audience to work hard, make it very easy for them to understand you by:

– Getting their attention immediately

– Letting them know that they are in the right room and that everything you have to share is relevant to them

– Telling them your message early, don’t save it for the end

– Giving them a simple, clear and compelling example of what you mean

– Telling them exactly what you want them to do when you finish speaking

5. Help them to see the future

In an article I wrote for Smartblog on Leadership called The 4 presentation attributes every leader needs’ I wrote:

‘When I first stepped on to the “corporate ladder” some 30 years ago, a former boss of mine shared a powerful truth with me. He said, “The only people who need to be motivated are the people who can’t see a future.”’

The key to a high impact presentation which inspires action is helping your audience to see and feel what the future could look like for them.

6. Give them a gift

Remember that Christmas when a friend you didn’t expect a Christmas present from surprised you with a gift. If you do, you will probably also remember that urge you felt to want to return the favour.

Of all the great presentation tips I can share, this one is my favourite. Give your audience a gift. Focus on crafting and delivering your message as a gift to your audience.

It could be simply be your passion, energy and commitment. Ensure it’s a powerful message or compelling information. Perhaps it’s simply a smile or your undivided presence.

7. Look in the mirror

The most effective presenters have a high level of self-awareness. In other words, they understand their dominant  and default communication style.They are mindful of its potential impact on their audience and adapt as appropriate.

What is your default communication style?

If you’re not entirely sure, try out our free Style Review.

8. Make it personal

At Mindful Presenter every one of our presentation training courses and coaching sessions is completely different. We don’t believe in ‘one size fits all’ and neither should you in any presentation you craft.  There is nothing worse than sitting through 30 minutes of a generic presentation knowing that most of it isn’t relevant to you.

Make sure that everything you say is of personal relevance to your audience.

9. Be prepared to be a little vulnerable

It’s a myth that your audience wants to see a ‘slick’ and highly polished presenter. In our experience, providing you’ve crafted your presentation around the other 8 tips in this article, the person they want to hear deliver it is you. They don’t want the ‘corporate spokesperson’ that they hear in most meetings.

To be authentic you have to be prepared to leave yourself just a little exposed and vulnerable. Allow your audience to see a little of the ‘real’ you.

Presenting and speaking in public isn’t simply about imparting knowledge and information. Anyone can do that, it’s the easy part. It is about connecting with others and influencing them in some way to think, feel and do something. Something you believe will make a tangible difference to their professional or personal lives.

If you’d like more great presentation tips:

– 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

Image: Courtesy of flickr.com

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One comment
  • Nicole Lewis
    Posted on 20th January 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Helpful story! I think the key aspect of presentation is making it very personal. When I created presentation for my previous company I tried to include a lot of sentences and pictures that would evoke emotions from viewers. It was hard but eventually my boss was satisfied.


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