Presentation Skills – 4 powerful ways to connect with your audience

woman presenting

The next time you get to sit through a presentation make it your business to have a good look around the audience whilst the presenter is speaking. If you’re really lucky you will see a lot of attentive faces where it’s clear that the audience is absorbed and fully engaged with what the speaker has to say. The presenter will have their audiences attention, interest and curiosity.

They are connected

Occasionally you will see a room full of sunken faces subtly drifting down into their mobile phones; it’s not a pleasant sight.

The former is the result of a mindful presenter who has a high regard for her audience and is prepared, while the latter is the presenter who is on autopilot. The autopilot presenter may well be an expert in her field and brilliant at her job but is disorganized, unprepared and oblivious to who her listeners really are or what they need from her when it comes to presenting her message.

Here are 4 powerful ways to connect with your audience.

1) Pack a punch with your visuals

If you are using slides they should complement and intensify your message, not perplex or bore your audience. Every slide should be simple and powerful enough to help your audience resonate with what you are saying to lead them to think and feel the way you want them to think and feel. It’s not about what will work for or help you. It’s about what it will do for them.  Before deciding, ask a few people you trust for their honest opinion as to how the slides really make them feel.

– Keep them simple – Less is always  more when using slides

– Use them to support your point not make it

– Think like a designer – design your slide like a bill board ; one idea, big type, empty space, highly visual

2) Give them the gold – let them take everything else away in a hand out

Put the graphs and charts in a hand out and give them to your audience at the end of the presentation. The mindful presenter does the work for her audience and extracts the key message from the chart or graph, making it fully clear without them having to painstakingly search for it. At Mindful Presenter we call it giving our audience the gold. In a previous article called ‘ The a to z of mindful presenting: f – focus‘ I wrote:

‘Imagine you are panning for gold. You can be absolutely certain that most of what you will find is dirt, dust and gravel. If you filter long and hard enough you just may find a piece of gold. That’s our job as presenters, to filter the ‘noise’ until we find the gold

Be very clear yourself what you want the audience to learn from your chart and then find another creative way to express it. Don’t make them work for it. If you really feel you have to use a chart or a graph then keep it simple and be sure your audience doesn’t have to work hard to read it and get your point.

3) Think like a hairdresser

The next time you are waiting to have your haircut or perhaps a tooth pulled at the dentist and you pick up a magazine to read whilst you’re waiting, take a moment to become very conscious how about how you read it. Most of us will scan the pages in search of something that grabs our interest or attention, a headline, an image, a bold colour or something that resonates with us. Well, as much as you may not like to hear it some of your audience will be like the person waiting for their haircut or sitting in the dentist chair; they are waiting for something that grabs their attention.

Make sure you prepare mindfully so they don’t have to flick through the magazine.

4) Ask yourself ‘so what?’

I’ve often sat through a presentation finding myself repeatedly asking the same question in my mind, ‘so what’? Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience, you’re sitting there patiently waiting for the presenter to get to the point or say something of meaning or of value to you and instead you find yourself asking ‘so what?’

– What does that have to do with me?

– Why should I care?

– What difference will it make?

– Why are you telling me this?

The mindful presenter makes certain that question never arises for her audience as everything she says and every slide she shows is relevant and of significant value to her audience.

Crafting and delivering a  presentation that will have a powerful impact on your audience  requires a high level of emotional intelligence. Set out to connect with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually and your audience will be glad they came to listen to you speak.

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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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