Presentation Skills: Do You Know Your Audience?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the idea of public speaking – be it from nervousness or excitement – that we often do not have a clear idea about those to whom we will be addressing. In truth, you cannot even begin to create your presentation until you know about your audience. And, the best way to gain that information is to ask.

Someone is going to email you, phone you, or send you an actual letter with an invitation to speak to their group or at their conference. Your job is to then ask questions. Speak directly to the individual inviting you. If the person inviting you is calling you on behalf of someone else, ask the questions anyway. Make a list of the questions for which you need answers; refer to them throughout your conversation; and, if the individual inviting you does not know the answer, make sure he or she gets back to you.

If a company is hiring you to speak to their employees, find out the level of the employees. Will it be just the managers and/or the top level administrative staff or will it be a particular department within the company?

If you are speaking at a convention, find out who is invited to attend. Is it a real estate convention in which your audience will consist of realtors who have paid hundreds of dollars for a Vegas weekend or is it a flower show in which your audience will pay at the door to browse the displays?

Should you be invited to speak to a local club or organization which meets monthly, for example, ask the same questions. The more information you can gain about your audience, the better prepared you will be.

After you have gotten your answers, go to their website and do more research. Whether it is a convention, a business, or a local club, read all the literature you can about that organization or company especially press material. You may find something in your research that could be very advantageous to know before addressing that group.

Even if you are speaking to a local chapter of a club, search the internet for any press coverage they may have had recently. Businesses and clubs will be impressed if you are familiar with their firm or organization. Being on top of current events makes you more knowledgeable and thus increases your level of credibility.

No matter how much money you are being paid, or whether you are doing it for free, no matter where and when your presentation, no matter if it is 10 minutes in length or 40, no matter what your topic, no matter why you are speaking, the most important question you must answer is: to whom are you speaking?

How to Create a Compelling Presentation

How many conferences and events have you been to where you have been preached at by someone in a pinstripe suit, drowning you with countless volumes of PowerPoint slides? Most people that stand up at a conference are brilliant at what they do – they are truly experts in their field and have more knowledge than they could be possibly share with you the audience in half a lifetime, let alone their current allocated time slot. Many (not all) of these speakers haven’t got a clue about engaging and connecting with you and as a result they are totally forgettable. When asked afterwards who you remember, the chances are the most you’ll remember will be the fact that they all wore pinstripes.

When I started speaking publicly I was what I call a competent corporate presenter – meaning I had a strong voice, spoke with authority and got my message across in an effective and professional’ manner. I use the word ‘professional’ here in an ironic way, as I believed that I was presenting professionally because I looked and sounded the part – I wore the corporate mask of professionalism. I had a serious tone to my voice, had plenty of facts to pass on and had a grown up expression on my face.

Therein lies the issue – the Corporate Mask – this is where professional people stand on stage and present as they have been conditioned to do so, having seen colleagues and peers get ‘through it’ by using “Pinstripes @ PowerPoint”.

By contrast the memorable presenters and speakers are having fun, they are enjoying themselves and are carrying the audience with them. Hiding behind vast reams of data, facts and statistics does not connect with the audience – however telling stories that relate to the important messages, reinforce the message and potentially inject some levity into the room will make most speeches and speakers memorable.

You can use Google to get some top tips for using PowerPoint – my strong advice is to avoid using PowerPoint at all. If there are any acts and figures then use a hand out afterwards to remind everyone of the key points mentioned. Nearly all presenters and speakers that use PowerPoint are guided by the slides, thereby making their speeches stilted and lacking in flow – without it they become more natural and expert in their delivery.

Also, why is it that when someone delivers wearing the “corporate mask” you rarely see them smile? Is it because smiling doesn’t look professional and serious? Yet without a smile on stage the presenters look grumpy and angry, as though they do not want to be there. Try using some simple anchoring techniques and positive associations in the mind to make you smile more. There are many tricks you can play on yourself whilst presenting that are not visible to the audience but will make you feel relaxed and smile – I’ll let your imagination go wild now as these triggers need to be personal and have a positive effect on you.

Pinstripes & PowerPoint with a grumpy looking face will turn off the audience before you have even opened your mouth. Start with a smile, warm up before you go out, have loads of energy and speak from the heart not from the head, this will make you truly memorable for all the right reasons.

Success Secret – What’s More Important, The Present Or The Future?

Successful people have found a success secret that allows them to reach unprecedented levels of success. It’s time that you know just what this success secret is so that you can begin to apply it to your own life.

The first thing that you need to know is that most successful people don’t have any more talents or abilities than you do. The reason why they are so successful is because they know and apply certain success secrets in their lives. So if you found out what these secrets are and begin to apply them to your own life you will be able to reach great levels of success in your own life.

One success secret that almost all successful people understand can be found in a quote by Jerry Seinfeld who said, ‘I was in the drug store the other day trying to get a cold medication…Not easy. There’s an entire wall of products you need. You stand there going, Well, this one is quick acting but this is long lasting… Which is more important, the present or the future?’

Here’s the success secret: most unsuccessful people focus on the quick acting, quick fix, remedies that merely put a band-aid on it, where successful people are more concerned about the long-lasting well being of not only their own life, but the lives of their families as well. Successful people are willing to go through upfront discomfort and pain in able to have the long-term benefits of success. On the other hand, unsuccessful people don’t want to suffer so they find the quick fix only to find out the problem was merely covered up and will keep coming up again and again until it is dealt with properly.

An example of this success secret in action can be found in the way many people handle their finances. Many financially successful people today were willing to live below their means in the early parts of their life so that they could build true wealth. As a result, they can now buy whatever they want, live however they want, and travel wherever they want.

Other people just throw this success secret out the window because they want to have everything right now. So they buy the most expensive car, house, clothes, and vacations that they can but never get ahead financially in life. They are more focused on the present than they are on the future.

What will you do with this success secret? Will you throw it out so that you can enjoy the brief relief of success now or will you apply it to your life so that you can live a life full of success and leisure in the future?

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