As much as some of us might seek the adulation of the crowd, it’s wise to remember that your presentation isn’t about you, although our self-indulgence can sometimes make it seem so. It’s all about your presentation audience.
Your presentation is for your audience and you must address what it wants. Get them to do what you want them to by demonstrating to them that it’s what they want.
Address their needs and fulfill their expectations in language they understand, with metaphors and examples that resonate with them.
Your objective must be expressed in terms of how it best connects with your audience. Speak to their needs and fulfill them.
Dazzle ’em with their own Dreams
The good news is that your audience’s generally low expectations mean that you can likely dazzle it with a merely above-average presentation. This is because the level of business presenting is so dismally low that audiences dread listening to them as much as you hate giving them.
No one seems happy at the prospect of this afternoon’s weekly “finance update.”
But remember this – regardless of the topic of your talk, every presentation audience wants the same basic thing. Deep down, all of us wants a chance. Everyone wants to have a chance to be a hero.
No one wants to hear from Indiana Jones . . . everyone wants to be Indiana Jones.
Or at least we like to believe that we could do great things.
Touch Your Presentation Audience
This is a touchstone principle long known to professional speakers. Kenneth Goode and Zenn Kaufman authored a book in 1939 called Profitable Showmanship, and their words resonate with stone-cold veracity over the subsequent 72 years, right up to today and the next quarter earnings briefing:
The audience is always on the screen, at the microphone, in the prize-fight, or in the pitcher’s box. You, the individual member of the audience, are the hero of the day. No selling can ever be completely successful that forgets this principle: that the prospect is the Hero of the Show. And, in fact, the only hero! . . . The minute you slide the spotlight off him, off his crazy ideas, off his pet peeves, particularly off his whims, your show is over. You may as well go home, for your audience is gone. . . . The hero of the [presenting] drama is the customer – or prospect. His vanities, his hopes, his fears, his ambitions – these are the stuff from which your plot is spun and on him – and him alone – must the spotlight shine.
If this message is difficult to digest, a mnemonic aid can help you stay focused on your presentation audience. Dr. John Kline developed this mnemonic aid, and he calls it TOOTSIFELT. This is a contrived acronym, which stands for: “The object of this talk is for each listener to . . .”
This captures the spirit of your presentation. It embodies the audience-centered approach. If you state this question repeatedly throughout the development of your show, you will always produce a tightly scripted and targeted message.
You can learn a great deal more about focusing on your presentation audience in The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.