A lot of people start their presentation with the wrong idea. They go out there thinking about how they can sound like the authority on something – how they can elevate themselves and sound brilliant. Public speaking has this aura of “ego” around it that is, in my view, entirely misplaced.
Because that’s not where to position yourself. Your “I must impress these people” attitude is setting you up for a fall. Not only will you be striving for perfection (which can be a barrier in itself), but you’re missing the point. You’re not there to show off your knowledge: you’re there to inspire. Your knowledge by itself is not going to inspire. The inspiring thing is how your audience can take that knowledge and experience the benefit for themselves.
Reviewing your presentation skills and reflecting regularly on how you’re approaching your pitch is really helpful.
Instead of thinking, “how can I impress these people”; think, “how can I HELP these people”. Because your presentation isn’t about YOU, it’s about THEM. That means establishing who they are. What do they already know; what problems do they have; how does your idea help to solve those problem?
That’s the art of seduction, right? Make people understand that, right now, they are the most important thing in your world, and they can trust you to do right by them; to treat them well; to entertain them; to keep them safe.
This is why knowing where to pitch your presentation is so important.
Take my job: as a public speaking coach, I work with so many different groups of people, with differing levels of experience and knowledge of presenting. They way I speak to a group of high-level executives, with lots of knowledge of formal speaking and leadership, is different to the way I speak to a group of graduates, who are just starting out. Because their PROBLEMS are different.
Imagine I’ve been invited to speak at a networking event for each of these different groups. My starting point is to profile my audience and establish what problems they have, and how I can solve them. The executives, for example, may need help building a specific pitch to potential clients in a competitive market. They may be very experienced in presenting, and understand how to use their voices to enthuse and inspire, and not have any issues with confidence. If I get up in front of them and start talking about how to overcome nerves and deal with imposter syndrome, I’m not solving their problems. So, I’m not going to inspire them, and they’ll lose interest me.
The graduates, however, will probably have much less experience, as they nervously take their first steps into the corporate world. So, it’s important I consider that when I’m working with them, and address those needs to gain their trust and show them I can help them…so I’m worth listening to. It’s important I pitch my speech at the right level for their needs.
These are metaphorical groups – of course, executives also feel nerves and confidence issues, and graduates are often super sure of themselves! My point is, I must tailor my content to meet the needs of the people I’m talking to. I have to really get along side them and enter their world, show that I understand their needs and that they can trust me to help them.
I do this by showing I’M PASSIONATE about the things they care about. I use THEIR LANGUAGE so they can hear my solutions in familiar terms. I TELL STORIES so they can recognise themselves in real life scenarios.
Selling anything to people – our ideas, our products, our business – is getting harder. We are bombarded, day in day out, by adverts trying to sell us stuff. We’re constantly told about the risk of falling prey to a scammer who wants to lead us away from what’s good for us for their own gain. So, we are resistant, suspicious and feel safer clinging to the status quo.
Never has it been more important to connect with your potential clients and pitch your presentation just where it needs to be.
If you need help with public speaking or the skills you need to write and deliver a brilliant presentation, get in touch.