The Unexpected Key to Successful Presentations (And 5 Ways to Do It Better)

Key to giving a successful speechGiving a presentation without thinking about your audience is like going out on date and talking about yourself the whole time. 

It’s squirm in your seat, clock watching, when can I go home and watch the Walking Dead, excruciating for your audience. 

Who –  by the way – won’t be returning any of your calls.

As a speaker, you’ve need to create a relationship – a bond even- with your audience. It’s the KEY to a great presentation.

If you don’t, they’ll check their watch, check-out or check Facebook instead of listening to you. 

Relationships take a lot of work to build and maintain. If you don’t do the work, then a break-up is inevitable. 

How do you build a relationship with the audience (after all there’s so many of them)? Here are 5 speaking keys to to deepen your connection and build a lasting relationship with all those people in your audience.

1. Tune into station WIIFM 

Presentations are never about you! It’s always about creating an experience for the audience that they value. 

You’ve got to get to know them – understand their challenges, know what they believe about your topic, find out what you have in common with them (it’s a lot like dating). 

When you truly know them answering the question “What’s in it for me?” is a tropical breeze.

Anyone who is listening to a presentation wants to know what they are going to get out of it. Tell the audience up front what they can expect to learn, feel, do or understand from your presentation and how it benefits them.

Need help getting to know your audience and how your message creates value for them? Download my Presentation Sweet Spot guide.

2. Tell a story 

Stories are connective fibers between you and your audience.

A story invades your brain. When an audience hears a compelling story, they begin scanning their own experience to relate to your story.

A story transforms a person from a passive listener to active participants in your presentation.

Not only that but storytelling let’s people in to your experience.   It allows others to get to know you and transports them to a world where the audience can relate to you.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice 

Show you care and be prepared for your presentation. 

Practice can be painful (heck, I struggle with it), but it’s the only way to insure that your content make sense to people other than you and that you present it well! 

The quickest way to ruin a relationship with an audience is not to rehearse. It shows that you didn’t care enough about your listeners to prepare. 

Now, I know everyone says to practice a presentation – but few tell you HOW to practice. Here are some of my best tips for practicing your presentation.

4. Be Yourself

Audiences want to see the real you not some perfectly, polished speaking guru who they have nothing in common with.

Show up as you with all your flaws, foibles and fails. Everyone is buzzing about authenticity these days but what they really mean is be the same person in front of the room as you are 

Embrace your quirks and let your sense of humor shine! Being yourself is the best way to build a connection and a memorable presentation.

5. Make eye contact 

I got some flack for suggesting that you should NEVER EVER look at people in the forehead instead of the eyes.

I get it for beginning speakers making eye contact feels like scaling Machu Picchu – heck for seasoned speakers this can be hard for too!

Making eye contact allows you to connect with your audience. They experience your speech through your eyes.

What’s a new speaker to do to ease into making eye contact? Find a SAM (Spectacular Audience Member). A SAM is the person who is leaning forward and smiling at you – they are the person who believes in you and your message. They are easy to make eye contact with because they are just so damn happy to see you.

What steps do you take to build a meaningful relationship with the people you speak to? Share it with me (and the world) in the comments!

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