I like having dinner out at the end of the week. Without the kids.
After 5 days of shuttling kids, supervising homework, making sure everyone at home and at the office has what they need in order to do their thing, and getting my own work done, it’s nice to have a little bit of room and space to just be while I leave the cooking and cleaning to someone else.
Don’t get me wrong, take out is great too, but then I get stuck with clean up and it’s just not as relaxing. It’s about managing expectations. When I dine out I expect to be taken care of at a level that take-out or brown bag can’t touch. In my book dining out is pretty awesome because I come first and someone is doing the work for me.
You ready for a presentation tie-in?
Audiences want a “dining-out” presentation experience. They want room and space to fully engage with the material being presented. They want a chance to learn something new, something that will hopefully help them in their life and in their work. They want this presentation to be an hour well spent.
When we started to shift the way we do presentations we looked at this audience desire, stacked it up against all the presentations we’d given, and realized we were mostly giving brown bag – or low level of service – presentations. Occasionally we’d throw in a presentation that reached take-out level, but it wasn’t very often.
We wanted to change that, so we made a commitment to always putting our audience first and giving them the highest level of service. We call this philosophy, “Doing the Work for the Audience”.
The tenet of doing the work for the audience is so important, so foundational to great presentations that we also call it our Golden Rule. It applies to every facet of a presentation: planning, scripting, slide design, and guiding the audience from the beginning to the end of the presentation. The audience comes first. Whatever is easiest for the audience, we do.
Research tells us it’s possible for a person to really focus only on one thing at a time; we want that one thing to be our presentation. But if a presentation is full of distractions, if the audience doesn’t have a clear understanding of the goal, if the audience has to make sense of the material themselves, the audience will focus on those things – they will be working, in other words – and won’t be able to follow along with the speaker.
When the audience has to work too hard or too much during a presentation, they eventually stop listening. They put their mind and attention elsewhere…on the hundred things they have to do that day, on the grocery list in front of them. And when they’re gone, it is really hard to get them back on track with you. Sometimes it’s not possible at all.
So what is doing the work for the audience look like in action? It looks just like a restaurant you are about to walk into for a meal. The service has been planned, the food is prepped, the tables are set, and your server is ready to take your order.
In Presentation-Land it looks like this:
1. The presentation is carefully planned with the audience as the focus. (Start with pen and paper then move on to presentation software). To get started download our Great Presentation in 6 Easy Steps tip sheet.
2. Within the first 90 seconds the audience knows what will be covered and how long the presentation lasts. They know this because you tell them. Then they’re not left to wonder about these things while you’re launching into your content. Remember, a presentation is not a suspense novel. Audiences do better when they know what’s in store for them. A famous line about presenting is, “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them”.
3. The audience is not reading your bullet-pointed slides…because there aren’t any. You’ve included thoughtful images and visuals that support your narration. Our Great Presentation in 6 Easy Steps tip sheet will help you get started, as will two of our most recent blog posts, Becoming Iconic and How to Rock Your Icon Drawings.
4. The audience clearly understands how they benefit from the information you are providing. We call this the WIIFM, or What’s In It For Me and we’ll be covering this in-depth in an upcoming blog post. For now suffice it to say that audience members are a tough crowd to keep engaged if they can’t see the clear benefit.
5. The presenter is the tour guide, navigating the audience from beginning to end, checking in and making sure their needs are taken care of so they can focus on the material. If you’ve done a good job with the first four steps, this last part is a breeze. It’s a matter of escorting your audience from the beginning to end of your presentation.
We put our “audience” first in lots of ways in our businesses and organizations. We spend lots of time and energy improving customer service and client experience, on streamlining processes to increase efficiencies, to really getting to know our customers so we can provide the best all around service to them. The client or customer is the focus for all of our work.
Wouldn’t you say it’s time to extend that experience to the presentations we give?