Werner Grant was one of the smartest guys you’d ever meet.
Throw any problem at him and he had the answer in a blink.
In the office he was the go-to guy.
When a project was about to rollout, Werner was your consultant.
A new software, a new process, changed compliance checks.
Werner was the guy to remind you of an essential thing you’d missed.
Had Werner not been so knowledgeable many projects would have been delayed, caused problems, or would have failed.
He was highly regarded throughout the organization.
The brains trust. The guy who had the knowledge.
Werner was well respected. With the exception of the moments when he delivered presentations.
This was the time his superiors, peers, and subordinates wished he would shut up and go back to sitting quietly behind his PC.
Today was one of those “shut up” times.
Werner stood soldier-straight at the front of the room, neck straining to look at the bullet points beaming out on the large screen behind him.
The audience checked their watches, responded to emails, and planned what to have for dinner.
How is it possible?
How can someone so smart be so crap?
It comes down to focus.
Your focus can make or break your presentation.
Werner’s focus is on facts, data, and logic.
Facts, data, and logic are important in a presentation, but they take second place to:
Your relationship with the audience.
If your relationship with the audience is not good it doesn’t matter how convincing your facts, data, and logic are…
…The audience isn’t listening to you.
Your facts, data, and logic only matter when the audience are listening.
The relationship building starts from the commencement of your presentation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a good relationship outside the meeting room will help you inside the meeting room.
Here’s how to build a relationship with your audience so they pay attention to your presentation:
Talk “with” your audience
Remember when you were a kid?
Remember being frustrated because your parents were always talking “at” you?
Remember how you learned to switch off?
Your audience switches off when you talk “at” them.
Talking at them is the same as lecturing.
And no one wants to be lectured to, right?
Instead of lecturing about your topic, talk with your audience about the topic and how it relates to them.
Including the audience in discussion will increase their engagement by astounding measure.
Relate your talk to your own experience
You’ve probably heard the advice, “tell stories to your audience.”
This is great advice, but it can be difficult when you have only a few hours to prepare a business presentation while you’re also dealing with your regular office work.
So, instead of “telling stories” think instead about “relating your own experience” about your topic.
Consider a presentation about your ongoing project.
You have to update everyone on the progress, budget, and revised deadlines.
Kind of boring, right?
Where’s the story?
The story is in relating your experience about the topic.
Tell your audience about the constant trouble you experience with the current computer system, how it impacts your work, how frustrating it is. Explain this is what drove you to begin work on this project to overhaul the computer system. Ask your audience if they have experienced similar frustrations.
By delivering this experiential story you increase your audience engagement, especially so if your audience has experienced similar things.
Show your audience how you can help them
Building on the previous step, turn your audience engagement onto high power by showing them how you can help them.
In the previous step we talked about mentioning your experience with the current, slow computer system.
You elicited your audience’s own experiences with the computer system.
They are probably frustrated too by the slow response times.
If so, explain to them how your project is going to help them. How the system overhaul will save them time and frustration. How their day will run more smoothly.
A funny thing happens when you tell your audience how you can help them…
The audience starts to pay attention to everything you say.