Why do so many presenters forget about their audiences! Just because their subject matter is relevant to them, they automatically assume that their audience will automatically see the importance too…
Unfortunately the reality is usually the opposite. If your audience can’t see some benefit to themselves within the first couple of minutes of your presentation, chances are you’ve lost them.
I remember once sitting in on a presentation by someone who obviously knew his subject and indeed was fascinated by it. Unfortunately he failed to engage his audience. This lack of engagement was pointed out when one of my fellow audience members scribbled a note and showed it to me. It said “Why are we here? how is this relevant to me?”
Now contrast this disaster with the deputy headmaster of City of Portsmouth Boys School who was addressing the whole of year ten, setting the scene for a day long Enterprise activity I was involved with recently.
He started by picking up a chair and lifting it high above his head. “Imagine I decided to design and manufacture a new style of chair. What would I have to think about?”
Immediately hands went up throughout the group and bright eager faces started to fire off excellent and relevant suggestions. “Check if anyone wanted a new chair”, ” Draw up a design” “Choose the materials”, “Make a prototype”, “Work out how much it would cost to make” “Find a manufacturer” etc.
Immediately he had involved the boys and started to establish relevance. He then went on to explain how the project they were given today would give them a chance to explore those skills further and to work as a team to produce a product and market it to the “dragons den” judges.
He had the boys eating out of his hand. And that’ was impressive because 14 year old boys must be one of the toughest audiences on the planet given all the hormones flying round their rapidly changing systems – Remember Harry Enflield’s character Kevin?
So next time you make a presentation please remember your audience and make sure you establish the relevance of your subject to them quickly!