Focus on Your Audience’s Problems, Not Yours
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to think that the presentation is all about you—an opportunity to talk about your ideas, your products, and your solutions—and never relate it to anything the audience already cares about. Instead, remember why your audience is there in the first place: they want or need something from you. The best thing they can hear is that you care about them, that you get them, that you understand their problems, and that you can discuss it in a way that’s meaningful to them. For both you and the audience, the ultimate objective is to improve their situation somehow, to give them a way to get what they really want. That’s one of the secrets to winning the presentation game: understanding that it’s not a win-lose game; it’s a win-win! When your audience wins, you win too.
Of course, this means you need to find out what they want and need, what gives them a headache or heartache, what makes them frustrated or angry, what they’ve been itching to learn or improve. So ask!
Key Questions for Pre-presentation Preparation
Long before you give the presentation, get answers to both the obvious and the more subtle questions:
• What problems do your audience want to solve?
• What are the obstacles keeping them from where they want to go?
• What do they believe is keeping them from getting this result so far? • Where are they now in terms of this result? • Are there things about the company, industry, or economic climate you need to know? • Is there anything else unique about the group that would help you tailor your presentation to their needs?
If you’ve learned about your audience in advance, when you give your presentation you can engage with them and help them find solutions to their problems. This is the difference between self- centered presenters, whose primary objective is only to enrich themselves (“I need someone to buy my stuff!”) and a presenter an audience can trust to help them. Separate yourself from everyone else by making sure your presentations revolve around solving the audience’s problems and the outcome is a win-win. By the way, one of the perks for you in presenting like this is that it feels really good. When you know that the reason you’re talking is to help someone else, you worry less about how you look and sound, and instead lose yourself in serving the audience and creating solutions that improve other people’s lives.