leadership

The only three rules you will ever need for any presentation

Yamini Naidu /

In a recent meeting a CEO confessed, ‘Numbers excite me but the last time I presented, I noticed everyone else’s eyes glazing over’.

Sadly, quite often I see this in presentations, where the presenter is animated, excited even by their content and yet the audience is almost dying of boredom.  So these three rules will ensure your next presentation is a smashing success and your audience is as excited by your presentations as you are.

Rule 1: Connect with your audience

Rule2: See rule 1

Rule 3: There are no more rules.

We all buy into the ‘content is king’ mantra where presentations are concerned. While this is still true, the king has a usurper to the throne and it is connection. What will make you as a presenter stand out is how you are able to get your audience to connect with your content.

To connect with your audience, you need to make it all about them. How is what you are presenting relevant to them, to their world? Humans are hard wired around giving anything that is relevant to them 100% of our attention. I am not much of a car buff, but we are in the market for a new car and suddenly I have turned into a car aficionado, cars are at the moment deeply relevant to me.

I once saw a presenter presenting on the topic of nanotechnology to a largely non-science-based audience.  He started by saying ‘How many of you would like to never iron again? Everyone raised their hands. And he said, ‘Nanotechnology will help you do that.’ He had us hooked, and made nanotechnology immediately relevant to everyone in the room.

Relevance has to be around saving people time, money or making their work/life easier, making them look good. It cannot, and brace yourself for this harsh truth, be about something like ‘shareholder value’, or ‘growing the business’, or a greater good. This might motivate and excite the CEO and the leadership team, but does not create any connection with anyone else. In fact, it can alienate your audience. Relevance has to be immediate and come from your audience’s world, not your world.

Content might be king but connecting via relevance is the holy grail of presentations. As motivational speaker Lily Walters said, “The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.” And nothing is received more eagerly than relevance.

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