Whether you give presentations for work, or to expand your business or as a professional, things have certainly changed over the last 10 years. Mike Wadhere of Tech Crunch claims we have moved from the Information Age into the Experience Age and that is right in line with what presentations need to head towards. When you sit down to listen to an engaging speaker, rather than a talking head, isn’t an experience more lasting in your memory?
What’s changed in the last decade and how do we make our presentations more of an experience for our audiences?
Here are some of the challenges and a few quick tips to help.
The Cell Phone Age
The last time you sat in someone’s audience, be honest, how many times did you pick up your phone to check email or social media?
I recently attended a marketing conference and during each speaker’s presentation, I was Tweeting some of the presenter’s key ideas to my followers who speak professionally. I was on my phone no fewer than 4 times per speaker.
So what does that tell us as presenters? We really need to grab our audiences in order to maintain their attention. How do you do that ?
Here are 3 Keys
- Use human stories or examples that illustrate your point. Stories draw people in like magnets. Craft your stories with a beginning, a middle and an end – which leads to the point.
- Incorporate short videos to change things up. They say that we should be altering our presentation format about every 7 minutes so be thinking about how you can take your audience on a journey rather than “give a speech”.
- Use professionals and make your slides visually appealling (one word or photo that grabs people). No doubt this is not news to readers of Presentation Guru, but it bears repeating that the days of reading your presentation straight from your Powerpoint are long, long gone. And if you do have a line or two of copy, ensure that your font is large enough to support larger audiences. (We 50+ year olds can’t see from the back of a room of 500 people or more).
And here’s a bonus
One of my former clients, technology expert Scott Klososky engages his audiences by using an app called Join Speaker. The audience can ask questions during his presentation using their handheld devices. The days of asking people to turn off their cell is long over.
The Information Age
In this context, the Information Age is where anyone can get their hands on any piece of information via the web or Wikipedia in a heartbeat. So what does that mean for someone giving a keynote or workshop on a certain subject? It means our information can be questioned at any point during our presentation leading to hecklers (heaven forbid) or Q&A’s going completely off the rails.
Here are 3 keys to ensure that things go smoothly
- We need to have solid information and do our homework so that our content is indisputable. For ideas that may be controversial, place a caveat before them to say “I know that some of you might be thinking…..” to tamp down the objections.
- Present your content in a unique way that is thoroughly your own. They say there is “no new information” so you must package your content in ways audiences haven’t heard before.
- Pull your examples and stories right from the audience. In our industry, we have a term “make the audience the heroes of your stories”. When you can include your audience and allow them to shine, that endears you to them. This is done, by the way, by doing research before your presentation.
The Expert Age
One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in our industry (professional speaking) is that clients stopped seeking only “professional” speakers and started to hire smart people who happened to speak.
The good news is that anyone can become an expert. If you have information that other people can learn from (sometimes things that you take for granted that everybody does are the biggest hits with your audience) then you might consider yourself an expert.
One of my clients, Kindra Hall is an expert in using stories to sell a product or build a brand. Back when she was working in her corporate job, no doubt she didn’t think, “some day I’m going to be an expert in storytelling”, her expertise simply evolved and people started asking her advice.
Here are 3 keys to evolving or boosting your expertise
- Immerse yourself into a topic area or specialty. They say it takes 10,000 hours and I think that number is pretty solid. I was 5 years into my career as a speaker’s agent when people started to ask me “how did you make your speaker so successful?” When I shared with them, I realized that I had a process. After 10 years of doing that job very well, I decided to take the leap into coaching speakers so I shifted gears, immersed myself and trained as a coach while launching my company Speaker Launcher. But the real game changer came when I wrote my first book The Wealthy Speaker. That allowed me to put my formula down on paper. How can you immerse yourself more fully into your expertise?
- Writing of any kind: blogs, articles, white papers, etc., can help build your expertise. Let people know that you have something to say in your industry and create a following for yourself.
- And if you have a book in you, then consider getting it down on paper. These days with print on demand and Kindle you don’t really have to go to a lot of expense to get your message out there. That said, I always advise my clients that “if you are going to write a book, write a good book”. Especially if your goal is to establish expertise.
These days anyone can give a TED Talk. Some of them are brilliant and some are simply great information. The bar has been lowered in terms of people needing to be polished and perfect. In fact, being flawed on the platform simply shows the audience that you are human.
The bottom line is that when you deliver an experience for your audience, you will be remembered