When striving to make a more significant impact on your audience, whether you’re speaking in front of a large audience or simply speaking up in a meeting, having a solid grasp of presentation skills is extremely important.
Who is the audience?
Understanding your audience is critical to if you’re going to have the maximum impact and master your presentation skills. The first thing you determine is who you audience is — in terms of demographics, position level, and role in decision-making. And most importantly, you have to understand why they need to hear what you’re saying and how they’ll benefit from your message. Very simply put, you need to know who your audience is and what’s in it for them. So often, speakers focus on themselves and their message without really having a solid grasp of why and how it impacts their audience, and what their audience’s needs and challenges are.
Also critical is asking what level of understanding your audience has in regard to your subject matter. Are they familiar with it, or is it completely new? How much do you need to explain? For example, if you’re using acronyms, you need to know if your audience is familiar with them, or if they need to be explained.
What do you want your audience to THINK, FEEL, and DO?
When crafting your message, it’s necessary to ask yourself, what is the goal and purpose of this particular presentation? Once you know who your audience is, the next step is to determine what you want them to THINK about the information they’re receiving, what you want them to FEEL on an emotional level (motivated, confident, excited), and finally, what action do you want them to take? What do you want them to DO?
Sometimes there’s a very clear action, like investing dollars in your proposal, and sometimes the do is less tangible. It may simply be that you’re looking for them to support your ideas. But whatever the scenario is, you need to craft a message with absolute clarity so you have the goal and intention in mind.
Mastering your presentation skills comes down to two primary aspects of presenting, the verbal and the non-verbal. Your delivery is as important as your message. Are you aware of your body language and eye contact? Do you have effective visuals? Are you delivering information with a sense of passion and conviction? Your level of energy is tangible, and if you aren’t excited or you don’t feel that the information you’re delivering is important, neither will your audience.
Supporting your ideas with proof
Mastering presentation skills requires you to gather the best possible proof that your idea or plan is viable. For example, if you are trying to persuade your audience that your new pay roll system is going to work better for the business, you need to ask yourself if you have provided proof that similar plans have worked in the past. Are you giving concrete examples of why transitioning from the current system to your system makes sense?
You can be passionate and excited about your proposals and ideas, but if you do not have the facts to back them up, your argument will be far less persuasive. On the other hand, providing the data will demonstrate that you are prepared, and will establish you as an authority whom your audience can trust. When it comes to presentation skills, you can’t underestimate the significance of bringing solid evidence to the table.
Illustrating with stories
Facts are important when it comes to establishing credibility. But they are not the only aspect of a successful presentation. Getting your audience invested emotionally is crucial, as well.
The ability to tell a story well is an important component of mastering your presentation skills. When you’re telling a story in a presentation, think of it as your best PAL. Make your POINT, give an ANECDOTE, and emphasize the LEARNING for the audience. A story is powerful because it evokes emotion and creates a picture in your audience’s mind. So constantly be on the lookout for good stories that help illustrate your point. And when you’re choosing a story, be sure to be aware of the exactly what kind of emotional reaction you want your audience to have.
Ending with a bang
When building your presentation skills, you want to make sure that you’re considering how you end your talk. In order to make the most memorable impact, you need to have a powerful conclusion, to ensure that your audience leaves with the right impression.
So often, speakers make the mistake of ending with a Q & A. It is so much more powerful to end using the following three steps:
- 1. A quick and brief summary of what you’ve just talked about
- 2. A definite and powerful call to action
- 3. A reiteration of the benefits of taking your advice
These should be the last things the audience hears, so they leave with a clear direction and a solid understanding of what’s in it for them.