How To Win Your Audience Over Every Time

“Don’t treat every audience to the same presentation as though they were all mere listening machines. Wherever possible, make each audience think you care about them and you feel lucky or honoured to get the chance to address them.”
― Ranulph Fiennes, the explorer

Explorer Ranulph Fiennes raised funds for his expeditions by making presentations. He knew what made his audience tick. Presentations are intrinsic to the world of business. As a member of a corporation or entrepreneurial startup, you’ve probably given a few presentations and attended numerous others.

Have you sat through dull presentations and wondered how you ended up there? Think of a presentation that changed your life. Why was it memorable? What did you gain from the information? Now, turn your focus to the boring ones — specifically, to presentations that failed in the areas of design, content, or duration. Where did they go wrong? When you’re charged with creating a slideshow, do you fear you’re heading down the same path?

If you focus on answering the following three questions, you’ll woo your audience with your presentation the next time around.

1. Is your content tailored to the attendees?

While members of the audience like to see that a professional is in charge, they are not attending to see your performance. Rather, they are there to fulfil a specific need or goal that THEY have.

Do your homework about the crowd before you arrive at the presentation. You can find out their demographics and interests by using online surveys. And you can get to know the participants even better by emailing or interviewing some of them.

Identify with the audience. Picture yourself as one of them in your mind before you create your slide deck.

2. Do you come across as a know-it-all?

If your idea of a script is a big fat lecture, ditch it. Your audience is intelligent enough, and they usually know what they need. Unless your audience is venturing into uncharted territory and you’re offering a never-before-seen product or service, your business is just one of many options available to them.

Your success lies in being a mentor, rather than playing a savior. Be the one who will help them face their fears, gently overcome their resistance, guide them in the right direction, and motivate them to take action.

3. What will they take home?

Win your audience over by underlining the benefits of your product or service and providing a viable solution that addresses their pain point (i.e., their pressing problem).

Know them, understand them, and develop a script that addresses their needs.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ll have an engaged, enthusiastic audience. They will value your content, and you’ll leave a lasting impact on them.

How can you change the focus of your presentation from YOU to THEM?