I’ve written many articles extolling the virtues of high impact presenting and public speaking and in some I’ve even gone on record as promoting it as the most important skill in business today.
Its significance is only paralleled by its difficulty.
In a world where there are so many demands placed on our attention, where we are awash with information it’s becoming increasingly difficult to both get an audience’s attention in a presentation and keep it.
The good news is that when you know what to do and how to do it things become a great deal easier for both you and your audience. What’s even better is that the lessons are right in front of us and most of us are experiencing them every day in the form of social media.
1. Facebook first
Let’s face it, that’s exactly what many people would rather be doing whilst they are listening to a presentation. After all, so many business presentations can be quite tedious to listen to. Have you ever felt that urge to check out what’s happening on your Facebook page or on your emails as soon as the presenter turns her back to you to read her slides?
Many of the reasons that Facebook is so powerfully addictive are the very same lessons to be learned for presenting.
– We are curious
We want to know what’s going on and to be certain that we aren’t missing out on anything. As presenter’s we have to craft and deliver a presentation which will make our audience instantly curious about what’s coming next. We have moments to do that and so we have to open our presentation with a bang.
Forget the niceties and formalities and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Ask thought provoking question
Share a shocking fact or statistic
Tell them a short, relevant and powerful story
Make them smile
Once you have aroused their curiosity say something that will leave them in no doubt that everything you have to say from now on will be of great benefit or value to them.
If it isn’t then why are you presenting anyway?
Make them a promise you can comfortably keep.
– We want to connect
Seriously, that’s why we are all here and it’s the one thing that we crave more than anything else; to feel a sense of connection.
Help your audience to connect with you by letting them into your world, be prepared to be a little vulnerable and show them who you really are.
Ditch the corporate spokesperson and have a conversation instead.
– We are bored
It sounds terrible I know but I believe that the reason so many of us tune into Facebook so frequently throughout the day is because we are bored; even at work.
If you are presenting and your audience feel the slightest hint that they are likely to soon be bored the games over. Make certain that everything you plan to say, show and do is personal to them, interesting and of value.
Ask yourself why you would stay tuned in if you were them.
2. Think like a tweet
I’ve often said that I believe that far too many professionals present their ideas to others as though they are comedians.
That doesn’t mean that I think that they are funny.
A comedian gets paid to tell a story and save the punchline for the end.
Many business presenters tell their story saving their key message (their punchline) for the very end.
It works with a joke but it’s painful in a presentation.
If you can’t clearly, concisely and richly deliver your message in the form of a tweet then I don’t believe you have a powerful one to share.
Craft your message with absolute clarity in less than 140 characters and make certain you give it to your audience right at the start.
3. Get them LinkedIn
Everyone now and then a proud father will post a picture of their son’s first Karate lesson. You may even stumble across the odd holiday sunset in Bali but for the most part its business. LinkedIn’s main purpose is to help people to network professionally and most professionals have learned that the best way to do that is to share rich content.
As I’m writing this article I switched over to LinkedIn for a moment and the first 3 articles on my timeline are:
How can you tell if someone is going to be a good team fit?
Scrap your work from home policy
A rough guide to leading organisational change
In other words once you’ve found your ‘tweet’ aka your message stay completely focused on it.
Networking isn’t a skill to be reserved exclusively for connecting with people you don’t yet know; it offers a huge opportunity for us to connect even deeper with those we do already know.
To craft your presentation ask yourself 3 very important questions.
What’s so important in this presentation that my audience should give me their undivided attention for 20 minutes?
As a result of listening, what tangible difference will it make to their personal or professional lives?
How do I want my audience to feel?
4. Take Pinterest
Pinterest has become enormously successful as a virtual pin board through the use of images. For some considerable time now much research has suggested that most of us are visual learners.
In other words we like to see things in pictures.
With over 100 million monthly active users, Pinterest has more than demonstrated that human beings like images.
Next time you’re presenting do yourself and your audience a favour and use relevant, colourful and compelling images to help animate your words.
5. Google+ or just plus
My reference to Google plus centres around two aspects:
Firstly, the idea of crafting and delivering a presentation which is so compelling that you naturally create your own circles. In other words, where the content is so rich and well delivered that your audience will want to go out of their way to share it.
My second point is to focus on the word plus.
In essence that revolves around creating a presentation that dares to be different, that stands out from the crowd and most of all makes a difference.
Who would have that that we could learn so much about high impact presenting from the arguably impersonal world of social media.
Each of these social media sites has built enormously successful empires without even using the spoken word; imagine the power of these principles with the spoken word.
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