The Art and Science of Presenting- Episode 1 - Where do you start ?

Episode 1 — Where do you start?

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be presenting you with a comprehensive step by step guide to the art and science of becoming a high impact and persuasive presenter, a Mindful Presenter.

What is a Mindful Presenter?

It’s someone who communicates with awareness, purpose and the focus needed to make a powerful impact in a way that is calm, creative and compelling. They present with a high level of emotional intelligence using the presence of mind and body to make a memorable connection with their audience.

In today’s fast paced and highly competitive age of information often the first thing a presenter will do when asked to speak is fire up their laptop and type in everything they know and want to say on the subject.

We call that presenting by ‘autopilot’ and there’s a much better way.

We believe that brilliant presenting is both an art and a science.

Art has been defined as a vehicle for the expression or communication of emotions and ideas while science is described as both a body of knowledge and a process. Presenting is that vehicle and this series of articles will show you exactly how to use our extensive knowledge and result driven processes to communicate and express your ideas to create an emotional connection as well as intellectual understanding.

Where do you start?

Every structure needs a robust foundation and presenting is no different, it’s a bit like building an Aboriginal tipi. A tipi is constructed using many poles but it’s the 3 largest poles that are the support for the other poles. It’s the same with high impact presenting, there are a great number of ‘poles’ needed to create a powerful and memorable presentation but like the tipi there are 3 large poles that need to be erected first.

1. Frame 2. Envision 3. Perform

Without these the tipi will crumble.

Pole 1

Frame — Planning what you’re going to say

Before you do anything else it’s important to begin with planning a framework for what you are going to say. This must be based on the needs of your audience and how what it is you have to say can really help them. The planning process revolves around 3 key elements.

– The Audience

– The Conversation

– The Story

The Audience

Your first priority in the planning process is attaining absolute clarity about who your audience really is and how you can help them.

That means you have to really understand them and the means for doing so is asking yourself a series of questions.

• Who are they? What are they like? What do they care about? and Where do they need help?

• Why are they here?

• What pressures are they under?

• Who are the decision makers and influencers and what common ground do you have with them?

• Who are the supporters, the antagonists and what common ground do you have with them?

• How can you help them and why should they care?

• How do you want them to be different at the end of your presentation?

• What do you want them to think, feel and do?

Many presenters craft their presentation under the common misconception that the presentation is all about them.

It’s not, it’s always about the audience and the presenter’s first task is to frame the entire presentation with that focus at the forefront of their mind.

That means actually trying to imagine for yourself what it would be like to be them for a day.

Your audience came to see what you can do for them not what they can do for you.

To really connect with a disparate audience you need to consider, respect and prepare for their individual needs. This in itself presents a formidable challenge if you haven’t met them before.

That’s why research is imperative.

Make it your business to find out as much as you can about the make-up of your audience in terms of:

Politics

Personalities

Values

Attitudes

Experience

Interests

Culture

Some presenters make the mistake of segmenting their audience with the aim of crafting and delivering their presentation focused exclusively on the decision makers in the room or those holding the power or influence.

That’s understandable of course and those people should be recognised and catered for, however, you will alienate the rest of your audience if you don’t consider the wider group. The presenter’s job is to connect with the whole room and that means finding common ground with everyone, not just the decision makers.

If you don’t know the audience there is still plenty you can do as part of your research.

– If you are presenting to a company you don’t know read their annual report, study their website, read press releases about them and their industry and market. Find out their mission, vision and values. One of my personal favourites is to set Google alerts to notify me when the company is mentioned on line.

– If you know the names of some of your audience find out as much as you can about them through social media. Read their LinkedIn profiles, twitter feeds and Facebook updates.

Every audience will have a mix of needs and the Mindful Presenter prepares with those needs in mind. In every room there will be:

Those who need the facts — These people will need the data, evidence, case studies, features and benefits. They will also need that information presented in a logical, structured and rational way.

They will want you to get to the point and focus on solving the problem. Elicit their thoughts about processes, procedures, problems and prepare answers to these questions:

Can you prove it? Has it worked before? What’s the evidence based on?

Those who need to feel something — These people will need stories, metaphors and anecdotes. They’ll need to be taken on a journey by asking them thought provoking questions, surprising, shocking them and making them smile.

Give these people time to explore their own thoughts and feelings and prepare answers to these questions:

How will this affect everyone? Will it affect our personal circumstances? Can we change it later? and What do other people feel?

Those who need to see the future — These people need to see the big picture. You need to help them to see where acting on your message will take them and prepare an answer to this question:

What will the new world look and feel like?

The Mindful Presenter ensures that they understand exactly what the decision makers and influencers need but they won’t make the mistake of not planning with everyone else in mind.

They address the needs of the different segments of the audience ensuring there is something for everyone.

When you’ve done your homework and really know your audience then you can prepare a conversation rather than a presentation.

People are far less likely to drift off in a conversation than a presentation.

Watch out for episode 2 of The Art and Science of Presenting where we will begin the conversation.

If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

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