Knowing your audience and what matters to them is the key to giving great presentations.
Do you remember the last time you sat in a room listening to a presentation that you had no interest in or wasn’t relevant to you? You likely felt frustrated, bored, and even annoyed. Now switch this scenario and think about the last time you were the person giving that type of presentation. You likely felt frustrated and annoyed that no one was listening to you.
For a presentation to be powerful, inspirational or communicate a clear message to the other members of your HR team, you must make your audience the focus of your presentation.
That means you need to think about their needs, why they’ve blocked out time in their diary to see your presentation and why they should care about what you’re saying. Remember every presentation has a goal, whether it’s to sell a big idea, share results or simply educate, so it’s vital you create common ground with your audience and engage them right from the very beginning.
Understand who you’re talking to
Who is in your audience and why are they coming to your presentation? Finding out the demographics and their job roles is a good start., but you also have to dig a bit deeper than that.
Has the big boss made them come along? Would they rather be somewhere else? Or are they excited because you’re going to solve a major problem for them? At the end of the day, most people want to know how you’re going to make their life easier. If you have an understanding of who is in the audience, how they are feeling about being there and why they should care about what you’re saying then you can tailor your message to suit their needs.
Find and share common interests
Once you’re clear on who’s in the room and why, you’re goal is to find and share some common interests so that your audience thinks you’re credible and trusts what you’re saying.
Talking the talk isn’t enough. Most people can sniff out a sales spiel a mile away. Remember we buy from people that we like, so your audience needs to connect with you, the person presenting the message.
You’re aiming for that instant connection that makes you feel like you’re all on the same page. Perhaps you all have a desire to fix the same challenge, an interest in a certain technology, or a passion to change the industry. Think carefully about what you might have in common and use it to your authentic advantage to build rapport.
Make an emotional connection
The only way to reach your audience and truly influence them into action is to take them on a journey with you. You need to learn to tell a story that will pull on people’s heartstrings and make your message memorable.
Most corporate presentations focus heavily on the hard facts and current stats, but research tells us that it is emotion that drives our decisions. We buy, or buy-in to something, based on how we feel about it, not whether all the numbers add up. Use images to create sadness, excitement, inspiration or even anger if it’s appropriate to your cause. Tell stories that are relevant to what you are saying and that support your slides.
Your goal is to strike the right balance of analytical and emotional content to fit your audience. Find the right balance of fact and feeling. This is how you’ll connect with your audience and inspire them to act each and every time you present.
Emma Bannister is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio.
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