Want to give Audience-Centered Presentation? Learn these 3 skills.

Exploring Empathy, Responsiveness and Relevance as keys to Audience-Centered Presentation
Daily Quote: ” Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”  Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence  
The R.A.T.E.R. is a useful tool to measure your ability to be Audience-Center in presenting or public speaking. Your ability to see and relate to, understand and respect the inner world of others, doesn’t mean agreeing with the other person’s perceived experience . For many, empathy is what I’ll call a touchy-feely word. “It’s all about feeling and relating to what others feel , isn’t it? – being compassionate. Does that really have any place in the hard-nosed world of business? One of the problems with empathy is that it is often confused with being ‘soft’ – overly sensitive, compassionate and even emotionally “mushy” or sentimental. It can be associated with tolerating bad performance or bad behavior, which is probably more to do with avoiding conflict than empathy.

Let’s be clear, empathy is simply the ability to comprehend and be respectful of the inner state/experience of others, it does not mean agreeing with the other person’s perceived experience or condoning the actions they take based on their interpretations. It is also not just limited to understanding another’s feelings. Empathy includes an ability to identify and articulate another’s perspective, expectations, wants and needs. Great communicators are empathic because they try to see the world through the eyes of their audience. By doing so they show respect and caring for their audience and when people feel respect they respond. There is an old saying, “I don’t care about what you know until I know that you care.”

As an empathic presenter you need to be  self-aware and sensitive to how their own behavior impacts others.  Empathy is outward and inward looking. Learn to be responsive and respectful as a presenter by identifying audience needs and being “quick on your feet” to provide relevant examples and tell engaging stories about your ideas. Show respect and and empathy your audience will respond in kind.

Self-Coaching Challenge: To get at this topic in short form, I’d ask you to take this self-evaluation to score yourself on a scale of 10, where 1 is awful and 10 is being masterful as a presenter in crafting and demonstrating empathy, relevance and responsiveness toward the audience members.  What follows are three questions about empathy. How do you stack-up?

1. Empathy is Item #1 I work-in to my message when presenting to others? _____

2. I am a full-fledged student of empathy, aiming for the same level of “professional mastery and excellence” that I’d aim for in a specialty like Human Resources, Brand Marketing, Finance or Business Strategy____________.

3. I stop at different times during my presentation to see how the audience is taking–in or understanding my message ________.





Top 10 reasons that typical Presentations are Boring and Fail

Typical slide presentations— Why they fail?

1. No focus on audience needs and expectations. These two critical questions not answered in design of presentations–Why should I listen or bother to listen to this presenter?  What do you want listeners do have they have heard the presentation?

2. Too much data, facts and text. Generally, too long and unorganized.

3. Ignoring Adult Learning Principles.  Irrelevant slides for the sake of slides and need to be the expert.

4. Poor flow, structure or design of slides or the star of the presentation is the slides

5. Talking at rather than engaging and letting audience discover the learning points based on their experiences and interactive exercises .

6. Boring talk because you lecture rather than creating a comfort environment to share ideas and powerful insights

7. Presenter cannot summarize the point of the presentation

8. Methods of story-telling, using metaphors, questions and alignment to meeting the needs of the audience

9. Too scripted, canned and formal–learn your strengths and be more natural.

10.  No connection with the audience because your presentation style  style is robotic and  perceived as unauthentic

Summary: Avoid these 10 visual and design errors if you want to design and delivery a great presentation. It is my belief that ever presentation has the potential to be great and every audience deserves you best.  Key is to become better at design of message, visual and verbal story alignment and executive presence or delivery. Treat audience as your most valued customer by exceeding their expectations. Focus on their needs and wants and your reputation will soar.  Help them see what you say. Combine words with visuals. Practice design deconstruction techniques fewer ideas are  better than a brain dump. Remember the ten minute attention span  principle of presenting and you will be a success and the audience will be the better for it. Good Luck and keep growing .

Key to Sticky and Effective Presentations–Relevance

Making Presentations Relevant

You have been selected as the next  speaker  for the Board of Director’s. This presentation could continue to make your star rise in the organization. So your task is to craft  a message that is informative , exciting and  makes the Board more aware and sensitive to a problem and solution that moves them to positive action. If this is your situation, it’s essential to take the time and think about what separates effective persuasive presentations from boring ones.

First thing you want to do is ask yourself this power and focused question: What do you want the Board members to remember or do after your presentation? Next remember that an effective presentations begin with one simple word: relevance. When participants connect with your core message you have their attention. It’s up to the speaker to understand or uncover the audience needs and expectations thus establishing relevance. Speakers can only be successful if the people who are present at the meeting see the relevance of your information for them.

Think about it this way. How would you answer an audience member who was bold enough to ask you at the beginning of the presentation “What’s in it for me to listen for the next 60 minuets?” The answer to that question – what is in it for the audience member is the responsibility of the speaker and is the essence of relevance. Effective presenters are able to convey relevance throughout their speech by using examples, telling stories or relating facts that are relevant and bring value to  audience.

So the next time you are designing a speech or communicating to your team members be sure your message is designed and delivered in a way that helps them understand how and why they can benefit from the material and new information you are trying to convey. That’s the best way to ensure that your message is memorable and inspiring and when you get to the point of calling for action their will be followers ready to act on the message because it resonates with their needs and is relevant to their lives.

Final Tip: Determining what is meaningful to your audience is an important aspect of preparing an effective and sticky presentation’ The best tool for identifying relevance is to do an audience analysis to learn what is important and meaningful to your audience. You can do the analysis prior to the meeting or even more powerful is to do an extemporaneous survey of the audience interest, experience and needs as it relates to your topic of discussion. Customizing  the presentation on your feet shows your confidence as a presenter and mastery of the subject matter which is very impressive to audience members. Good Luck and let us know how it worked out.