Are you delivering audience-centered presentations? Presentations training has been a big part of the work we’ve done in Europe over the years. This is especially true for working with speakers of English as a foreign language. Everyone understands the importance of presentations. Everyone talks about the potential for generating new business, for influencing others, and creating positive relationships. The problem is, when we talk about their processes for making a presentation, participants tend to spend most of their time thinking about what they want to say and not what the audience needs to hear. Here are a few things to keep in mind for ensuring audience-centered presentations.
Content vs Context in audience-centered presentations
The difference comes down to content and context. Content is what you want to say while the context is the situation surrounding the communication. Does the audience like the idea already, is it new to them, and are you already a credible source for them? What do you want the audience to feel, know, or do after the presentation? The answers to these context questions, and many others, can make a big difference in how you would design audience-centered presentations.
Not many would deliver a presentation in Japanese to an English speaking audience. At the very least, they would ensure the presentation was simultaneously translated. We accommodate language differences in context as a matter of course. Language differences affect our processes and our product, the presentation itself. Are there other contextual factors that influence the success of the presentation? Let’s say you want to sell cakes to a group of consumers. Picture making a presentation about the impact of ingredient selection and the scientific processes involved in and baking a cake to the group. While the presentation may be interesting, the most obvious question for the consumers is probably, “How does the cake taste?” Giving product samples at the beginning of the presentation is a lot more effective than a description.
Starting your audience-centered presentations with relevant examples
How many times do people describe products or services without answering, “How does the cake taste?” for their audiences?
We often know better but our processes often get in the way. For example, when you start your presentation by opening the slide deck from a previous presentation on the topic, you are starting with a content focus. By starting with a presentation created for a different audience or a generic context, we run the risk of missing what our audience needs to see or hear to have the impact we want. Often, how we start determines how we will finish.
If we want to design and deliver high impact presentations, we need to begin by considering the context and content in every step of our process. Asking ourselves, “What questions may the audience have about the presentation?” is a great place to start on the road to memorable, effective presentations.
Target Training helps clients develop presentations skills, presenting in English, and presentation design. We’ve helped clients make effective presentations in the areas of logistics, finance, manufacturing, sales, consulting and training. Watch for new products for presenting in a virtual environment coming soon.