Presentations are supposed to instigate action. Yet, too often than not, we miss the opportunity to connect with our audience, change how they think and encourage them to act.
Your presentation has the power to generate team buy-in to a new idea, to relay important information to key stakeholders and employees, and inspire staff to achieve new growth.
So you’ve got to think about why you are presenting and what you want your audience to think, feel or do after they see you present. Then you can choose your content and direct your information to help them. There are three things you need to put into your presentation to help you achieve just that.
1. Time to understand your audience
Renowned motivational speaker Tony Robbins thoroughly researches his prospective audience before a presentation or event so that he understands what drives them and can tailor his material specifically to their needs. You need to do exactly this, too. You must spend time before the presentation getting to know who is going to be in your audience and what their direct needs are.
What do they want to hear?
What do they already know?
Why should they care?
What problems will this solve for them?
What’s in it for them?
You must assess the beliefs, values and needs that make your audience tick. You’ll need to get into their shoes at the start, walk with them through the duration of the presentation and listen to their feedback at the end.
2. Story and emotion
In business, we’ve been taught to stick to the facts, to leave out any hint of emotion. Yet research proves that our decisions – whether we buy or buy-in to something like your next big goal – are influenced by our emotions.
Remember, people buy from people they like. So you need to make your audience feel something toward you other than the urge to flee the room.
Use images and video to create sadness, excitement, inspiration or even anger if it’s appropriate to your cause. Pair these with infographics and diagrams that sum up your main points and data.
When you share your goals and ideas through visual stories, your audience, your team, your stakeholders, connect to an ideal they can’t wait to be a part of. You begin to reduce fear and instil confidence in everyone around you. You start to take them on a journey with you.
3. The contrast between now and then
In the course of master communicator Nancy Duarte’s research, she uncovered a structure that some of the world’s most exceptional communicators had been using for years (including Aristotle).
It’s called ‘Persuasive Story Form’. This structure takes your audience back and forth between ‘what is’ (current state) and ‘what could be’ (the future world with your idea).
Beginning: ACT I
Have an honest conversation about the reality of the situation
Give them a glimpse at the solution – with your idea.
Middle: ACT II
Create tension and contrast for your audience
Use a balance of emotional and analytical insights.
End: ACT III
Begin with your call to action, what you want your audience to do
Finish with an inspiring description of the world with your idea in place
Ensure they leave committed to taking action.
When you structure your presentation in this way, where you contrast between what is and what could be, then you start to generate a deeper connection with your audience.
After all, the best presenters are those who can use a combination of facts and emotion to explain a future place that everyone in the department or organisation wants to work towards.