Want to be part of a secret club? I’m starting it today, and you’re invited. Do me a favor: darken your screen a bit. Put like a spreadsheet or something up on the screen and switch to it if you see someone else coming, or if a nosy coffeeshop person starts looking over at what you’re doing. This is between us, okay?
Presentations are important. They are a gifted opportunity, given to you by someone who hopes that you will educate and equip (and entertain!) the people who have gathered to participate. As such, I treat them as important opportunities, and I invite you to do the same, should you find yourself invited to speak in some form or another with people.
I want you to succeed. It’s my hope that some of what I share with you is useful, that you can pick it up, that you can take some of what I come up with here and run with it yourselves. I call this “giving your ideas handles.”
We’ll do three things with this post: talk about the audience, share with you my most concise advice about presenting, and give you some further resources. Let me know if you need more when I’m done.
Respect Your Audience
Legendary advertiser David Ogilvy said, “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.” He wanted us to treat the recipients of advertisements as important people, and I implore you to do the same to your audience. Here’s what I mean when I say that:
- Your audience knows more than you’re giving them credit for. Every time.
- They have come to learn something from you that they can use themselves. Give takeaways.
- They have sacrificed time. Value their every minute as best you can. Trim your presentation.
- Your audience wants something new. Stay fresh. They might have seen you last month or on the web.
- Give them something to DO. Give actionable next steps, such that your presentation leaves them wanting to rush out of the room and do what you recommended. If you can, make it as specific to the audience as possible.
- Never ever ever ever feel like you have to read your slides to me.
You ARE an Entertainer
If you’re going to command the stage (or a room, or whatever format your presentation takes), own the stage. Be as polished, as precise, as eloquent, as helpful as you can be. Here are some tips that I’ve tried to boil down tightly:
- Think visually. Slides are not Word documents.
- Make sure your slides aren’t more interesting than you.
- Speak louder and slower than you think you should.
- Dress for attention. If you’re going to own that stage, be vibrant (but tasteful).
- Speak WITH not TO your audience. Get them “in on it.”
- More than 7 key points is wasted.
- Be as passionate as you can be about the topic. If you’re not, why will they care?
Some more advice
What else can I help you with?
Photo credit Geoff Livingston