Vocalists often talk about "feeling" the lyrics. It's no different when you are at the front of the room presenting on any topic. Great AV, proper breathing, knowing your material and staying within your allotted time all help your presentation. However, you need much more to deliver a memorable versus a solid presentation. This can be challenging if you deliver numerous presentations on the same topic month after month, but when you find and embrace a personal connection to your content, your presentation will remain fresh.
Here are five elements of a compelling presentation to consider when you are preparing for your next presentation.
#1: A compelling opening and statement of purpose
As in an interview, you have 60 seconds to win (or lose) the attention and then the trust of your audience. When you are speaking to a large group who don't know you, your opening begins with your host introducing you to your audience. Many speakers write their own introduction while others rely on the host to pull the content off their website. (I write my own to save the host time and to make sure the facts are right.)
Your statement of purpose (what you want to share) must be succinct and contain one clear benefit to your audience. For example, if you are a financial advisor, you could start with, "I was doing very well financially back in 2008 and then suddenly I temporarily lost control of my finances after just two bad investments. Today, I am going to share the value of building and sticking to a long-term financial plan that got me back in the game and helps to avoid making the same mistakes again." Focus on your audience's emotions to get and hold their attention. If you are comfortable, talk about your own experiences. Be authentic to really earn your audience's trust.
#2: Focus on the thread of your presentation
Your presentation's statement of purpose acts as a grounding foundation - one that you should always come back to while expanding on your ideas. For example, if the purpose of your presentation is to talk about financial security, you can offer examples of what to avoid (timing the market) and what to do (have a well-diversified investment portfolio). You can come back to ways in which a financial plan can act as a compass in keeping the ship on course through all market conditions.
#3: Be committed to your topic
Your commitment to your topic goes beyond an impassioned or dramatic delivery. Start by researching your content and offering original insights. Research gets you ready to answer unexpected questions that may pop up.
When standing alone with your feelings and no thoughtful content, you will appear to be acting and lose all credibility. While you may anticipate many questions that are the standard industry queries, you may get questions from the audience that will surprise you due to their timeliness and clarity. Keep your sentences clear and short when answering a question and avoid overkill with statistics. If you are not sure of the answer, tell the person you will share it with them the next day.
#4: Engage your audience
Your goal is to get your audience thinking versus just listening. Ask occasional questions of them and give them a little while to think about them. You needn't necessarily ask them to share their answers, just ponder them. For example, try: "I don't know if you have ever been in a situation when..." or: "If you are like me, one thing that may irritate you most is when..." In this way, your thoughts are in sync with theirs and you are bringing them closer to you.
#5: A compelling closing
Emphasize your belief in your convictions and topic one last time. This will make you and your presentation more memorable.
Reaffirm your empathy and concern for their best interests in a way that reflects your personality and comfort level. For example: "I chose my profession because I am committed to helping people to control their own destinies. I invite you to consider how what we have shared can make a difference in your lives and the lives of your families and colleagues. It has been a pleasure being with you today."
It may seem surprising (because so many speakers do it) but I avoid thanking an audience for their attention. You are inadvertently diminishing the value you brought to them when you appear grateful that they listened to you.
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