A different perspective
In today's newsletter, I will teach you one of the most important aspects of public speaking.
In today's newsletter, you will learn one of the most important aspects of public speaking.
Which of the preceding statements do you find most appealing? Why?
Take a moment to think about it before reading on.
Most people find the second statement more appealing than the first statement. Why? Because the second statement puts the emphasis on you, the reader.
We are all a bit selfish when we are reading or when we are listening to someone speak. We are most often trying to answer this question: What's in it for me?
In other words, why should people be listening to you speak?
If you want to dramatically increase the effects of your presentations, change your perspective. Instead of asking yourself, “What can I tell them?” ask yourself, “What do they need to hear?”
Here is the hard truth: when you are giving a presentation, nobody cares about you... except you. That's right, you don't matter! The only thing that matters is what you have to say. And if what you have to say does not matter to your audience, then your speech will fall flat.
Here are some areas where you can change the focus of your presentations, so they become about your audience and not about you.
- Your language: Say “you” more often than
you say “I” or “me”. Maintain a ratio of at least 2 you's
for each I/me. The net effect is that your audience feels you are
only interested in them. When they feel you are interested in them,
they are more likely to listen to you.
This is especially important when you are trying to convince your audience to act on what you say. If they feel that it is all in your interest, not in theirs, they won't act.
- Your examples: When you give examples, make other
people shine. Put other people on the pedestal.
Audiences hate speakers who are constantly talking about how
great they are, and how much other people pale in comparison.
If you spend too much time aggrandizing yourself, your audience will quickly get tired of it and will perceive you as inconsiderate and insecure. But when you spend time making other people look good, you are perceived as sincere and self-assured.
- Your PowerPoint slides: Why do you have them? Is it
because it helps your audience understand better? Or is it because it
helps you remember what you want to say? Most PowerPoint
presentations are done for the benefit of the speaker (yes, I have been guilty of this too). The audience is
usually an afterthought. The most effective PowerPoint presentations will
be focused on the audience, not the speaker.
(Now, when you read the next example, pretend you didn't read the previous point about using examples...)
The other day, I presented a short speech on the history of Haiti. At first, I had planned on simply telling a story. As I gathered my facts, I realized that there were many historical figures to talk about, most of which were likely to be unfamiliar to my audience.
So I set out to find a few pictures in order to help the audience sort out the various characters of my story. I managed to find what I wanted and I put it all in a short PowerPoint presentation.
The PowerPoint presentation was not flashy, there were no fancy animations or sounds. Just a few pictures.
After I presented my speech, I received numerous comments from audience members stating that they were happy that I used PowerPoint slides. I don't think I have ever been thanked for using PowerPoint!
Changing your focus to the audience instead of you has an added benefit: it makes you less nervous. When you are focused on your audience, you forget about being anxious.
So remember the next time you need to do a presentation: it's not about you, it's only about the audience.
© Laurent Duperval