Many reluctant presenters (and many experienced ones too!) make the simple mistake of placing all their attention on themselves as presenters. Effective communicators on the other hand do it differently…
When you are presenting to an audience, be it one person or a thousand, you must remember who the most important people are. Who are the protagonists in your story? Who is taking the action when the talking has finished? It’s the audience – assuming your presentation has a clear outcome which involves the audience doing something as a result of your presentation. (And if it doesn’t, what’s the point of making the presentation or speech in the first place!)
So if the audience are the most important people in the room, doesn’t it make sense that you should be placing at least 80% of your attention on them.
- Physically and mentally engage with them – They won’t do anything if they don’t have some sort of relationship with you.
- Make and hold eye contact with them. Not only does this raise your own projected authority, it is also an essential source of feedback as to how they are responding to your messages.
- If they are not responding in the way you would like, don’t just ignore this valuable information – do something different. Ask them a question. Get them to give you examples.
- Ask them rhetorical questions and use pauses to give them the time to consider their answers.
There is one other, perhaps more unexpected benefit of placing your attention on your audience.
Many presenters get very nervous and this technique can also help you reduce those nerves dramatically. There is an old principle that goes “Whatever you focus on, grows.” So if you are focusing internally and paying attention to your own nervousness, guess what. You tend to get more nervous.
If on the other hand you pay attention to your audience, you start to forget about your nervousness and it subsides naturally!
So good luck with your next presentations. Put this tip into action, see the difference, and if you feel like posting a comment then I’d love to hear from you.