What makes a presentation influential?

Posted & filed under Blog, Communication Skills Coaching.

Influential presentations

are all about bringing about a change in the behaviour of an audience so that they do something in your favour that they would not have done had you not spoken to them. Sounds easy but how do you make such behaviour changes happen? Well, the starting point is to know where your audience is coming from. Without that you’re sunk before you even begin and we’ve all been in presentations where the speaker has failed to influence because he’s failed to engage. So, understanding your audience’s “pain” is a good starting point.

You then need to give them a reason to listen and that usually revolves around how they might benefit from what you have to say. In a business context it’s likely to be one or all of the following: making them money, making their lives easier and making them look good. Deliver all three and you’re onto a sure fire winner.

Influential speakers

don’t overtax their audience’s brain cells. They make it easy for your audience to take action. Think Barack Obama’s “Yes we can…” Break necessary actions down into simple steps. Hold out the prospect of rich, sunlit uplands and then show them the easy starting steps to get them there.

Humans are naturally risk averse so de-risk the proposition. Of course, you want them to take risks otherwise not much really happens, but you need at least to make it seem relatively low risk.

Be prepared to entertain and amuse

For your audience to take the necessary action they will need to remember your message and action points. They are more likely to do this is you make them laugh. Watch out though. Jokes are minefields these days and it’s so easy to offend. Better make yourself the butt of any humour.

Finally

leave your audience in no doubt as to what’s expected. Give them a clear call to action reminding them of what they have to do and have a sense of urgency. Remember Churchill’s “Action this day!”

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