If you want to win over a business audience, you need to weave a magic spell on them. Here are 7 ways to do it.
1. Meet Their Needs
The quickest way to turn a business audience off is to deliver your presentation to suit you; conversely, the quickest way to turn them on is to deliver it to suit them. Marketing agencies tell us that most audiences fall into four different types of people:
- Drivers. Busy people, they will want you to start and finish on time. They are interested in the bottom line
- Expressives. Expressives warm to style and feeling. They want to feel good about your talk
- Amiables. Amiables enjoy the chance for social interaction with you and others. They find it hard to sit quiet
- Analyticals. Critics and cross-examiners, analyticals will only tune in to your arguments and facts
Now all you have to do is deliver your presentation to appeal to every one of these types, or find out who the key decision makers are and deliver to them.
2. Charm Them
Some presenters manage to charm us with their manner and style and we believe they have a natural gift. But being able to charm an audience is a skill that can be learned.
The following are some of the ways to increase your charm rating:
- look good: it shows you respect your audience
- make up your mind to like them unconditionally
- defer to them. “Don’t underestimate an audience’s intelligence or over-estimate their knowledge.” (C.P.Scott)
- be courteous and courtly. Acquire good manners and mannerisms; thank them for coming to see you
- find out enough about them so that you can drop light touches about them into your talk
- pay them sincere compliments (“As experienced professionals, you will know…”)
- aim to be of service to them.
3. Stand Out
Being different means getting yourself noticed. Antony Jay describes this presentation in his book “Effective Presentations”.
An Army officer arranged to give a presentation on “Surprise in warfare”. Once everyone had assembled, he announced his subject, placed a tiny squib on the table and took out his matches. Just as he was about to light the squib, his assistant let off a huge explosion at the back of the room. The audience immediately learnt three lessons about surprise in warfare: be aware of deception about time, place and the bang you expect.
4. Grab Their Attention
One way to think about an audience is to imagine that they are neutral, ie neither interested nor bored, but capable of being either. It is up to you to grab their attention.
One way to do this is to structure your talk around the mnemonic AIDA:
- Attention-grabbing opener
- Interest-inducing follow up
- Desire-creating middle
- Action-calls at the end
- Aim to make sure that nobody leaves your presentations asking “So, what was all that about?”
5. Keep Them Interested
All the presentation skills that you can acquire and practise have one simple purpose: to defeat Randomity Deprivation Syndrome in your audience.
Randomity deprivation syndrome is, in simple English, boredom. It strikes when we are captive in a stuffy auditorium and the person who is speaking has “deprived” us of our basic need for “random” and interesting ideas and experiences. One way to stave off boredom is to identify a problem that your audience has and to let them know that they will only overcome it with your help. The more serious you make the problem, the keener they will be to drop every other thought and pay attention to you.
6. Lead Them
The most effective way to lead an audience through your presentation is to follow them. Only by tuning in to where they are can you effectively respond by delivering a talk that is relevant to them. This is not an easy thing to do in a one-way presentation where opportunities for feedback are few. You can however do it if you…
- go at their pace. Speed up your speaking rate for subjects that they are familiar with, slow down for subjects that are new
- watch out for signs that you are no longer getting through, such as whispers, fidgets, yawns
- use “we” rather than “you” (“We have five minutes to look at Bioengineering. Let’s start with…”)
- find common ground between you (“Like yourselves, I travel a great deal, so I know how hard it is…”)
- listen to what they say before your talk, during your talk and afterwards
7. Be Yourself
The thing you bring most to a presentation and the thing that determines whether an audience will accept your presentation, is You and the way to deliver You is confidence. Confidence means feeling at one with others, knowing that you’re in this together and the only outcome is “I’m going to win and so are you.” Confident people are well-prepared but not so much that they lose the spark of spontaneity. Confident people avoid doubts, self-criticism, and worry about the impression they’re making because they see themselves as able, acceptable, wanted and loved.
If you learn and practise these 7 presentational skills, you will be able to get any audience to do what you want. The effect will be sheer magic.
About the Author
Eric Garner is the founder of ManageTrainLearn a useful training resource for managers. Article © Eric Garner, ManageTrainLearn.com.