How Great Leaders Inspire Action
Recently, Simon Simek gave a TED talk on this topic. He notes that most people focus on what they want to do and then how to do it. It is only at the end that we address why we should do it. This is the hallmark of weak presentations.
For example, imagine a presentation focusing on getting approval to sell mobile devices. What will we do? We will produce cell phones and tablets, with competitive features. How will we do this? We will design them in the U.S. and manufacture them in China. Why are we doing this? So we can offer a product with competitive features at lower costs and greater profit margins and/or market share. Now, everyone should rejoice that we can produce another commodity product that will compete favorably with other similar products for the time being.
Great presentations start the other way around. Why introduce an iPhone or iPad? To connect people to family and friends and things that will enrich their lives. How is this accomplished? By designing something special and then producing them at the lowest cost possible in Asia. The “What” of all of this: “cool” tools that are part of an ecosystem of other products and support systems (e.g., Genius stores).
So the next time you develop a presentation, show your passion and engage the audience first in why this subject or product matters. Then work through the how's and what's! Now go enjoy his presentation at http://bit.ly/KrtS1x.
Control the Room Set-Up
If you’re ever presenting in a room that is not conducive to engaging the audience, do what you can to change the set-up. Recently, I was asked to moderate a session and give a presentation at a conference after lunch. Obviously the audience was experiencing post-lunch drowsiness. The panel was on stage quite a distance from the audience. To keep everyone engaged for the hour-long session meant closing the distance between the parties.
I moved the podium down to the floor only a few feet away from the first luncheon tables. Then, using a Lavalier microphone, I began walking closer to several tables in order to use eye contact and body movement as a way of maintaining the audience’s attention. By the time I finished, not only was everyone still awake, but now they were engaged in asking lots of good questions.
Fear of Public Speaking
As we begin writing our book Audience-Driven, Authentic Presentations (ADAP), we immediately begin to address the most common fear people have: public speaking. Everyone is nervous about presenting—you’re not the only one. ADAP not only reduces the source of the fear substantially, but it sets you up for future success.
ADAP shifts the presenter’s focus from self-consciousness—worrying about how you appear to others—to focusing on why the audience is there: to get information that will help to make a decision. Your attention is on the content and its delivery, and on checking whether or not it’s resonating with the audience. By focusing on the audience and doing the best job you can to impact your audience, there’s no time to dwell on yourself. Not only are you not worried about yourself as a public speaker, but as you “go with the flow” and engage the audience, you’re positively reinforced, which leads to long-term public speaking success. Indeed, that’s why practicing in front of audiences, whether at Toastmasters or Presentation Excellence workshops is so successful: you build confidence by being competent at speaking. Try it—and leave your fears behind.