Fascinating, but What’s In It For Me?

What do you want your audience to think, do or feel after your presentation? If you, as Steven Covey advises, “start with the end in mind,” you’ll have a clearer idea of how to engage your audience.

We spend a lot of time working on how to have the "X Factor" in our presentations - how do we develop charisma and confidence to impress people with our speaking skills? These things are important, most certainly. But not all speakers think about what our audience is actually going to get out of the presentation!

Will Ferrell and Jack Black have a delightful two-minute introduction to their Oscar award section - they sing a song called Get off the Stage. The essence of their message is that Oscar "thank you" speeches are boring. If we dig a little deeper, the issue with these acceptance speeches is not about being boring, it's about saying things that have no relevance to the audience. There is seldom any "What's In It For Me" value in an acceptance speech. When the relationship between the speaker and the audience is not being nurtured, the engagement is lost.

I recently heard Alisa Camplin speak and was impressed with how she not only entertained the audience with her fascinating story about her Olympic triumph, but managed to draw from it life lessons relevant to everybody. Yes, even those of us not athletically-inclined! Her approach indicated that she had thought about the take-away for the audience. Alisa’s talk showed her desire to engage with the audience and nurture a relationship, however temporary, so that her story, strategies and lessons would be of use to her listeners.

I believe that those who engage most successfully with the audience are the people who genuinely want their listeners to take something specific away from the talk - a strategy, a lesson, a different way of thinking. When speakers sincerely desire to give value, they find a way to communicate it and the relationship becomes stronger.

When you plan your meetings or your presentations - think about your audience.What's in for them? WHY are you talking about this particular issue? Have you outlined the relevance to their situation and provided something meaningful for your audience or your team to take away?

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