Great professional speakers are not born – they are made.
For most people, public speaking is a dreaded task that often puts them outside of their comfort zone. Presenting to a crowd – especially a seemingly indifferent or tough one – without making a fool of yourself is already a challenge, so imagine how much more difficult it is to connect with them and effectively deliver a message in a way that they will remember.
Of course, an excellent presentation isn’t about the speaker at all. Despite the usual feeling that you’re the star of the show, a good presenter won’t focus on how well he delivers a speech but on how well the crown draws from it.
With that said, it is important that you create a presentation that helps you connect with your audience. To do so, here are five tips in transforming your next presentation from a host-led event into an audience-centered gathering:
1. Be Inclusive With Your Audience
No matter what your profession, gender, race, or political standing, there’s a good chance that you’ve suffered from listening to lengthy, too “salesy” presentations. These boring speeches tend to force the audience into becoming passive participants in the event while a speaker tries to coax them into buying his wares.
This isn’t how you connect with your audience. If you tend to use “I” and “me” more often in your presentation, it may be time that you reassess your goals to see that you seem to be merely boasting rather than giving the crowd something they would want to have.
The first step you need to take to correct this is to replace those words with the inclusive ones like “you” and “we.” It will also help to use the local dialect or language to make them feel like you’re speaking with them rather than talking at them. This means that, if you’re speaking to a foreign crowd, try to learn their language.
Also, try to incorporate as many topics in your presentation that they can relate to, and you’ll surely help your audience remember not just you but your talk as well. If you’re speaking to plumbers, don’t blab about new surgical procedures; try to think about what they would usually talk about and get into their heads.
2. Put Yourself in Your Audience’s Shoes
In order to pull off tip no. 1, you must follow this second tip: put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
Before you can even start writing your speech, you must first delve into your audience’s psyche to understand how their minds work. This – as well as knowing their demographics and preferences – will allow you to weave your message in a way that will stick with them.
Knowing what goes on inside your audience’s head will help you see what type of strategies are most effective for addressing the specific kind of crowd you’ll be talking to. It will also ensure that you have the necessary ammo for the facets of your message that they are bound to resist so you can ultimately win them over.
3. Simplicity is the Key
Unless you’re speaking to a group of poets and authors, making your speech as elaborate as a Shakespearean play won’t help you connect with your audience at all. In fact, in most cases, complicated presentations won’t work.
When planning for your speech, you should always keep your core message or key takeaways in mind. This can be presented in the form of an elevator summary or a quick 15-word spiel. Either way, the key lies in keeping it brief, clear and focused on your key message.
4. Don’t Dump Too Much Data
Over the years, presentations have become too complicated because of too much data dumping. However, if you want to connect with your audience, it is important that you try to avoid this at all costs.
Remembering tip no. 3, make sure to focus on your key message and only include data related to it. Don’t cram too much information as it will neither show that you’re an expert nor impress your audience.
The truth is that the more information you offer them, the more likely that they would feel overwhelmed by your presentation. To remedy this, make sure you maintain a strict editing rule of removing anything that isn’t directly related to your core message.
5. Know How to Use Body Language
Expert emcees recommend literally leaving the stage and using your body language to the fullest. Not only will this help ease your nerves during the presentation, but it will also help you connect with your audience.
Aside from walking around, you should also try to use appropriate facial expressions and hand gestures when making a point. If you’re relaying saddening statistics related to your core message, you shouldn’t look all excited at presenting the data; if you’re providing the audience a peek at a ground-breaking innovation, you mustn’t look downtrodden and depressed.
Keep It Simple but Relevant
Connecting with your audience is a crucial factor in determining the success of your presentation. Understanding where they came from and how they will react will ensure that your message will be understood, appreciated, and remembered well.
Hisham Wyne is an internationally recognised MC, broadcaster, presenter and moderator who helps the world’s best-known brands create memorable occasions. He regularly hosts conferences, panel sessions, gala dinners and award ceremonies for some of the world’s best brands. With 150+ events under his belt, Hisham is the professional speaker that brands and agencies turn to when wanting to interview, engage and entertain government VVIPs and Hollywood celebrities.