As presenters we demand a lot of our audiences. The fairest exchange involves trading time and attention (from the audience) for preparation and relevance (from the presenter). Audiences often fail on their end of the deal, but it's more productive and pro-active to focus on what presenters can do to deliver better experiences.
Presenters seem to expect that their audiences have superhuman levels of:
- Attention (for boring presentations)
- Patience (for long and/or rambling presentations)
- Mind Reading (for unclear presentations)
- Sight (for tiny type
- Hearing (for low volume)
It's amazing! Too many people, in too many companies are exiting presentations with headaches, exhaustion and confusion. Asking the right questions will help.
Would I care?
Presentations exist because we need audiences to act.
Presentations are business communications that benefit from innovations in other fields. Every day, professionals in media, advertising, education and entertainment compete for our attention. One thing is clear, if you want your audience to stay with you, make it worth their while. Why should presentations be different?
Make it better:
- Filter your content for relevance – based on objective and audience
- Practice in front of colleagues – ask them to critique you honestly
- Is there content on screen, that you do not talk about or explain? Eliminate it
- Film yourself, and watch – How long before you want to pause?
Am I ready?
Presentations are designed experiences. Have you:
- Checked your visuals for typos?
- Tested your equipment?
- Reviewed seating, acoustics, temperature, lighting of your presentation space?
Remember that whether or not you are in charge of your space, you are responsible for your audience's experience.
Respect your audience. Make your presentation worth their time and attention. Invite them to act and join you in moving your project forward.