November 6, 2020

Your presentation is not about you it’s about your audience

By Kevin Watson

Following on from my book review of “Resonate“, let’s focus on leaders needing to give a presentation to help their audience.

It struck me during my senior leadership career, very few leaders are ever trained how to speak publicly. Presentations can be the bane of corporate life, but spare a thought for the presenter. They have often had very little advice or support to improve.

So, for the first post on this topic to help data leaders present better, I welcome back leadership coach Kevin Watson. A regular contributor, Kevin has shared before on the topics of both communicating your vision & giving feedback.

Over to Kevin to convince us the focus should be on our audience…

How many are suffering presentations right now?

In any given moment, there are thousands of people giving presentations.

Around 30 million presentations are estimated to take place across the world in any given day. Whilst many of these may be excellent, it is also fair to say that many are simply awful.

It’s either death by PowerPoint or simply about the presenter!

Improving your audience experience

To provide them with a memorable experience, your audience should:

  • know why they are there and be clear on what’s in it for them
  • feel something – connected, inspired, enthused, supported, or at the very least engaged
  • remember what it is you really want them to remember
  • feel inspired to do something with the information you’ve shared

The ability to present with confidence, clarity and impact is a critical skill for everyone in today’s challenging business environment. People at all levels in organisations are being called upon to present ideas to a wide range of stakeholders, often where the stakes are high.

Presentation Leadership

“There are good leaders who actively guide and bad leaders who actively misguide. Hence, leadership is about persuasion, presentation and people skills.”

Shiv Khera

Anyone seeking to have an impact needs the skills to inspire, persuade, lead and motivate any audience they speak to. Are you seeking to advance your presentation skills to the next level?

However experienced you may be, you may be looking to ‘raise the bar’ on your performance and speak with more confidence, clarity, purpose and impact.

Level-Up for your audience

Here are four simple ways to take your presentations to the next level:

1. Getting Your Thoughts In Order

Organise your presentation into a structure that makes it easy for you to remember and deliver – even if the worst happens and the equipment fails or the dog eats all your notes!

2. The Power of Storytelling

A great presentation appeals to the audience emotions, so tell it as a story. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to engage your audience emotionally and persuasively.

3. Speak Confidently, Fluently and Persuasively

Once you have your material, it’s time to get into the right frame of mind to present. Develop ways to handle your nerves and deal with challenging audiences.

4. Enhance NOT Detract with Slides

You don’t need PowerPoint slides to give a great presentation, so only consider them as an option to enhance your delivery. Use imagery to provide memorable backdrops to your presentation and avoid too many words!

Even if you’re not a graphic designer, you can still design beautiful and memorable slides. And, there are some great apps out there such as Haiku Deck or Canva to help you create them – and to take a lot of satisfaction in doing so.

Your Call to Action

We’ve all sat through boring presentations, and there’s no excuse for it!

Besides, in today’s world, you cannot afford to be another one of those people that puts an audience through that torture.

So, next time you are presenting, give the audience something they will remember – for all the right reasons.

How do you think of your audience?

Thanks to Kevin for those helpful and sensible tips. We’d all do well to remember that focus.

Reading that reminds me of something else I took away from reading “Resonate“. Many readers may have heard the old advice that, if you are nervous as a speaker, you should imagine the audience in their underwear. Nancy Duarte suggests instead you imagine your audience in spandex – because they are to be the superhero of your story.