Over the past years, I have had the privilege to train and work with a lot of different professionals on their (business) presentation skills. From scientists to CEO’s and from fashion designers to software developers.
The interesting part is that regardless of their expertise or job titles, they all seem to make this one crucial mistake when it comes to presenting. And it is preventing them from being truly memorable and influential in their presentations.
Wondering what it is? It has to do with their focus. What do you focus on when preparing for a business presentation? Do you start with opening your powerpoint or keynote software? Do you start listing what you want to say?
This is where it goes wrong. Putting the focus on the content instead of the purpose. In other words, we pay a lot of attention to what we are going to say and almost no attention to why it matters. The crucial question to ask here is:
WHAT IS IN IT FOR THEM?
Too often people hold presentations for the purpose of sharing information. Just because that’s how it has always been done. But think about it, if you prepare a presentation with all the time and money this costs, and all you wish to do is share information, why not just write an email and send it around. That takes a lot less effort from both you and your audience.
The goal of your presentation needs to always be: to inspire. To inspire new thinking, new behaviour or often, both.
Only when you know your goal, you can create the road to get there. And only when you know where you are going, people will dare to follow you. Once you know what you wish to achieve, it’s time to find the right tools. The story, the facts that support your story, and potentially your visuals.
So how do we inspire action? Here’s the simple answer: Emotion inspires action. Action is only taken when we either want to move away from something we don’t want or we want to move towards something that we do want.
Let’s take a look at what changes when we shift our focus from information to goal.
Focus on information:
1. You spend hours memorizing all the facts, figures and data (that nobody is going to remember afterwards anyway).
2. You will probably put all this information in your slides because it is impossible to remember all of it by heart. Your audience will read your slides instead of listening to you.
3. You will show your audience that you are able to memorize facts and reproduce them and that you are able to read what’s on the slides.
4. You’ll probably get nervous before the presentation because: ‘What if I forget anything? ‘
5. You will not inspire any action because people are not driven by facts (even though some people think they are)
6. Your audience will have forgotten about you and your presentation within a few days. ☹
Focus on your goal:
1. You spend little time preparing because you know just what you have to say in order to reach your goal. You only have to memorise your first and your last sentence.
2. Because you only use slides that support your story, your audience is focused on you and will only look at the slides when they have to.
3. You will show your audience that you are knowledgeable about your topic because you are not speaking from what you memorised but from what you know. You are the expert!
4. You will feel calm and focused before your presentation because you will speak from what you know and believe.
5. You will inspire people to act because they understand why you want them to.
6. Your audience will remember you and your presentation long after because you’ve made them feel something. You will stand out! ????
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and that it will help you in your future presentations. If you find it helpful, feel free to share it with someone else who might benefit from reading this.