What do you want your audience to feel?
More often than not, the typical responses we hear are: informed, engaged or interested.
At Mindful Presenter we believe that’s not enough.
I can’t imagine that any presenter, regardless of their topic, message or intent, would want their audience to feel anything other than informed, interested and engaged. In fact, the absence of any one of those elements will leave your audience not only very uncomfortable but also resenting you for wasting their time.
There has to be more, much more.
Whatever your position or role is, everyone wants to feel connected to you and your message. They don’t just wasn’t the data. They want a dialogue. They want a conversation that they can relate too in a way that connects with them emotionally as well as intellectually.
We live in a world where most people associate the word connected with technology, social media or a high speed internet connection. It’s fair to say that most of us would struggle to feel connected without these elements and whilst they may serve a useful purpose in business presenting, they are not the key to connecting.
What every audience wants from a presenter is trust, belief and a level of empathy that ensures they not only understand the message and receive it with clarity, but that it sparks something emotionally too.
You may want them to feel:
Can we connect with data, facts and figures?
Whether you answer yes or no to that question, my belief is that it’s the emotional content that drives a connection which influences action, change or, at the very least, understanding.
How you we connect when presenting?
It all starts with having a clear intention. In other words, deciding well in advance exactly what it is you want your audience to feel about your message and why. Once you have that clarity your next priority is to make sure that you feel it first.
Here are 10 powerful steps you can take to ensure you connect with your audience.
1. Don’t assume anything
The more you know your audience the more likely you are to be able to connect with them. Don’t make the mistake that many presenters make by assuming you know who they are, how they think and what they want and need from you. Do your homework and ask them.
Whether you are presenting to your boss, a client or your team pick up the phone or send them an email asking them what they would really like you to include in your presentation.
2. Make it personal
You can craft the most creative, compelling and clever presentation in the world but if your content and message aren’t relevant to your audience, you won’t connect with them. Make sure that everything you say and show is personal and relevant to your audience in some way. If it’s not relevant, doesn’t serve any purpose or offer any value to your audience then it’s just ‘noise’ which will quickly disconnect you.
3. Be maverick
Most business presentations are very similar. Professionals reading bullet point after bullet point or simply dumping information on their audience in the same monotone voice. I don’t know anyone who likes attending business presentations unless their job is so boring that they would rather do anything else than do it. A maverick challenges the status quo.
Be independent, innovative and dare to be different. Don’t do what everyone else does.
4. Smile and make them smile too
A smile has the power to win allies and calm dissenters. It sends a very clear message to your audience that you are pleased and happy to be there and so they can feel free to be so too. A smile can change your own emotional state in an instant and it can be as infectious as a yawn. Have you ever wondered why many of the great speakers inject humour in their speech? It’s the best signal you can give your audience to relax in the knowledge that they are in good hands.
5. Stretch their minds
Nobody likes being lectured to but everyone likes a stimulating conversation. Ask your audience questions, even rhetorical ones; get them thinking. Ask them to use their imagination and create images in their mind using examples of the point you are trying to make and how you’d like them to see things. Tell them something they don’t already know, hadn’t thought about or couldn’t easily Google for themselves.
6. Share personal insights
Show your audience that you have your own thoughts, values and opinions by sharing how you see things personally as well as professionally. Instead of simply offering generic or even market perspectives let them know exactly where you stand on the issue or topic and how you arrived there.
7. Be them
It’s extremely difficult to connect with fellow human beings in any way if we are unable to put ourselves in their shoes and see things from their perspective. Before you even sit down to craft your presentation spend some time being them for a day. In other words, imagine you were them; what would you care about, want to know and need to help you even further. Remember, you’re not simply making assumptions here because you’ve already asked them; your now taking it to another level.
8. Let them in
Be prepared to be a little vulnerable and let them in to your world. Whatever your title, position or status, give them at least a glimpse of the real you. Have the courage to lose the ‘corporate spokesperson’ from time to time and open up to them in a way that they can relate to personally as well as professionally.
9.Tell them stories
Our minds are all too easily overwhelmed with data and information designed to inform and impress. There comes a point where we are all so overloaded with facts and numbers that we become numb to the ‘noise’ and begin to tune out. Telling your audience short, relevant and compelling stories are the most powerful way to keep them connected.
10. Hold a gaze
It’s been written about for millennia. Every book, article, play or song which ever speaks of the key to human connection refers to the inherent power of eye contact. Eye contact has the unrivalled potential to create, sustain or deepen any relationship. It reduces resistance to persuasion, promotes trust, belief and sincerity. If you really want to connect with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually, be very sure to make eye contact with them.
The people we listen to, remember and whose words we act are on the ones we feel connected with.
‘Connecting is everything’
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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.
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