Business Presentations – Don’t Rely on Them Being Attentive – Why Words Are Better Than Matchsticks

Blackberry, e-mail, mortgage payments, stuff; when you step up to make your presentation no-one in the room is thinking about you, they’re all thinking about themselves. They’re all in an information overload stupor, and you’re potentially the final piece of information that just might break the metaphorical camel’s back. Unless you use tactics that prod and poke them awake. Here’s how.

Recently Seth Godin, author of marketing book ‘Purple Cow’, wrote this in his blog “No-one cares about you”, unfortunately he’s right. Yet many business presenters start their presentation by saying “I’m here today…, here’s my agenda for today…, and I’d like to explain…” And right there within the first few moments of their speech, less than a second, they’ve lost their audience.

The audience were hoping it was going to be about them not you.

That’s the first thing you can do to keep your audience engaged, simply put, turn everything you’ve written about you and make it about them. In-fact, make a vow today, that never again in your business presentations you will use the word ‘I’. Do you promise?

You’ve just been handed the next clue to keeping them engaged, did you get it? Start each section of your presentation with a question for your audience, and back it up with the promise of a benefit. You see when you ask a question it makes the audience want to know the answer, and even better if that answer is going to help them live better, get richer, or save money.

Let’s look an example from a recent presentation on call centre improvement.

“Are you aware that targets used to motivate staff in call centres are actually the cause poor morale? Stay tuned for the next five minutes and I will tell you why you shouldn’t use targets, give you an alternative which will put plutonium fuelled rocked under the seats of your call centre employees.”

And the final alternative to wedging match sticks under their eyelids: use action verbs and colourful language. If you were paying attention, were you? It’s in the previous sentence.

The sentence would have been fine with the words
“And the final alternative to keeping them awake”; but would it have painted a picture of you physically keeping your audience awake with matches? Probably not.

So in summary:

  • Make it about them not you
  • Start with a question
  • Use action verbs and colourful language.

Oh and one more thing, summarise regularly.

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