It comes as no surprise that most audiences are intolerant of fluffy presentations overloaded with boring and poorly styled PowerPoint slides that make the audience go ‘So what’.
It will also be no surprise that today’s audiences – irrespective of age, gender, or culture will check out of the room long before they physically leave – for their mobile devices will give them every opportunity to engage with something or anything that is more meaningful or relevant to them.
Audacious presenters know this and they also know they must provide three core elements to keep audiences present.
1. They must be entertaining.
But don’t worry if you can’t do the soft shoe shuffle or act like Leonardo Di Capri or Kate Winslett. What audiences want most are presenters who step into the presentation with vivacity, energy and can project the key points with a purpose. Audacious presenters fill this space with stories never told, insights into experiences not shared, and anecdotes that make the audiences lean in and want more.
Audacious presenters don’t give away everything from the platform but create suspense or curiosity and then simply pose great (often, rhetorical) questions that play around in the mind of the audience long after the presentation is over – making people eager to learn, discuss or do more. Audacious presenters are serious about giving the audience an experience in way that is entertaining and challenging and one that is certainly memorable and worth going to.
2. They must be engaging.
The key here is to touch the audience’s mind, hand and heart by contextualising the presentation to their world. An audience will engage when the presenter gives meaning and context to the stories and information so people understand the presentation is about them and not about the presenter. An audacious presenter will present information the audience feels connected to, even if the experience is not theirs. The difference here is the audacious presenter enables them to see the world from a different view – safe but not immune to taking responsibility.
Audacious presenters are bold and courageous to engage truthfully and closely – but not too close. They know they can create a vulnerable audience and that is not their intention but creating an audience that is engaged to the key topics and can take that knowledge back to their life and work will make the biggest difference.
3. They must be relevant.
Forget about putting in stories, slides or information from the past as fillers or just because they look good. Forget using something that worked before just because you felt you ‘could’ use it again if it is not 100% relevant. Don’t use slides as a segue to something else which is often just a red herring. In fact, forget everything that is not immediately relevant to the audience and just answer their most immediate needs and priorities.
Remember audacious presenters are not scared of ‘white space’ – they let silence do the heavy lifting and wait for cues from the audience as to how much information is enough on the day, and how they will assimilate the information back into their world. If the information fails to be relevant to their lives or work, it is a little like a lost dog wandering the streets – hoping to find a good home and a big bone but settling for a night in the cold. Audiences today have no tolerance or patience for mediocrity and will not settle for anything that is not a good use of their time. Audacious presenters understand relevance and stick to it.
So if you find your audiences not just looking at their watches but actually shaking them, chances are you have not yet mastered the art of audacious presentations.
But if you are serious about it – stand up, breath deep, focus and get to work.