When giving a presentation or speech, it's common to feel as though you hold a position of power. You're placed front and center, and people have gathered to listen to you speak. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that the audience is the true focus of the event. Why? Because the individuals you're addressing will ultimately decide if your concept flourishes or fades away, based solely on their acceptance or rejection of it. In reality, you require their support more than they require yours. Given this control they possess, it's vital to approach them with a sense of modesty.
Presenters tend to be self-focused. They have a lot to say, they want to say it well, and they have little time to prepare. These pressures make them forget what's important to the audience. A self-focused presenter might just describe a new initiative and explain what needs to get done —outlining how to do it, when to do it, and the budget required. Then maybe, if the audience is lucky, he’ll have a slide at the very end about “why it matters.” This format screams, “I pay you to do this, so just do it!” The presenter is so consumed by the mission that he forgets to say why people would want or need to be involved.
The audience is the reason you're presenting in the first place. They're the ones who will ultimately decide whether your idea will be successful or not. Therefore, it's important to focus on them and their needs.
An audience-centered approach means taking a moment to walk in your audience's shoes. It means presenting your idea in a way that clearly shows how it will benefit them. Instead of just outlining the details of the initiative, spend time explaining why it matters to them and to the organization, what internal and external factors are driving it, and why their support will make it successful.
Yes, get through the nitty-gritty details, but set up the valuable role they'll play in the scenario rather than dictate a laundry list of to-do's. This audience-centered approach will help create a connection with the audience and ensure their understanding of why they should care about your idea.
The Audience is the Hero
The audience is the “hero” of your idea. Even though presentations and audiences may differ, one crucial aspect remains the same: Your audience is interested in what you can offer them, not what they can do for you. Therefore, view your audience as the "hero" of your idea, and see yourself as the mentor who encourages people to see themselves in that role. By doing so, they will be more inclined to support your idea and help it succeed.
You should aim to be like Yoda—a wise, humble mentor. Give the audience
A special gift - an insight that will improve the audience’s current situation
A new tool - enable the audience to learn a new skill or mind set from you
Help them get "unstuck" - an idea or solution that gets the audience out of a difficult situations.
By focusing on the audience as the hero, you can create a more engaging and relatable presentation. The audience will be more likely to connect with your idea and become invested in its success.
An excellent example of a “Master Presenter” is Steve Jobs. In 2007, during the launch of the first iPhone, Jobs stood on stage wearing his trademark black turtleneck and jeans and began to introduce the world to a revolutionary new device that would change the way we communicate forever. He didn't just talk about the phone's features, he showed them off, demonstrating how easy it was to use and how it would make our lives better. Jobs used storytelling to convey his message. He would start with a simple story about a problem people faced and then show how his product could solve it. This made his presentations engaging and relatable, and helped people connect with his ideas on a deeper level.
In conclusion, the audience is the most important aspect of any presentation. They have the power to determine whether your idea spreads or dies, and it's crucial to be humble in your approach. By taking an audience-centered approach and focusing on their needs, you can create a more engaging and successful presentation. Remember to view the audience as the hero of your idea, and yourself as the mentor who helps people see themselves in that role so they'll want to get behind your idea and propel it forward.