Sadly quite often I see this in presentations, where the presenter is animated, excited even by their content and yet the audience is almost dying of boredom. So these 3 rules will ensure your next presentation is a smashing success and your audience is as excited by your presentations as you are.
Rule 1: Connect with your audience
Rule2: See rule 1
Rule 3:There are no more rules.
We all buy into the ‘content is king’ mantra where presentations are concerned. While this is still true the king has a usurper to the throne and it is connection. What will make you as a presenter stand out is how you are able to get your audience to connect with your content.
To connect with your audience, you need to make it all about them. How is what you are presenting relevant to them, to their world? Humans are hard wired around giving anything that is relevant to them a 100% of our attention. I am not much of a car buff, but we are on the market for a new car and suddenly I have turned into a car aficionado, cars are at the moment deeply relevant to me.
I once saw a presenter presenting on the topic of nanotechnology to a largely non science based audience. He started by saying ‘How many of you would like to never iron again? Everyone raised their hands. And he said ‘Nanotechnology will help you do that’. He had us hooked, and made nanotechnology immediately relevant to everyone in the room.
Relevance has to be around saving people time, money or making their work / life easier, making them look good. It cannot and brace yourself for this harsh truth, be about something like ‘share holder value’, or ‘growing the business’ , or a greater good. This might motivate & excite the CEO and the leadership team, but does not create any connection with anyone else. In fact it can alienate your audience. Relevance has to be immediate and come from your audience’s world, not your world.
Content might be king but connecting via relevance is the holy grail of presentations. As Lily Walters. a motivational speaker said “The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.” And nothing is received more eagerly than relevance.
I had a big bump moment with charisma last week that I want to share with you. I have always been a HUGE fan of Brené Brown, ever since I saw her TED talk in 2010, the very talk that went viral and made her an overnight sensation.
So it was very exciting to get the opportunity to see her live in Melbourne last Friday. It was exciting but I was also a tad nervous, what if she didn’t live up to my expectation. I need not have spent a nanosecond worrying about that. Brené was a warm, empathic and funny and had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand from the word go. But what surprised me was how charismatic she was. I was reminded of a quote by Rose Herceg ‘Charisma is like pornography, you can’t define it, but you know it when you see it’!
We are all brought up to believe charisma, you have got it or you don’t, but having the privilege of watching Brené in action, here are some things that stood out.
Charisma is being comfortable with who you are. Every charismatic person owns who they are, warts and all and are completely comfortable in their skin. They are not mimicking someone else or trying to be something they are not.
Authenticity. What struck me with Brené Brown’s talk was how genuine she was, it does help that she researches authenticity, but it is very powerful to see a speaker modeling their message. In a world where so much seems manufactured, spun, sanitized, authenticity is immediately charismatic.
Elevate others. Quite often people who think they are charismatic, or are determined to be charismatic can make it all about themselves. It is all about their ego, always speaking the most, and not giving other people an opportunity. Seeing charisma in action is the exact opposite of that. A charismatic presenter or leader elevates the people around them, through their connection, and warmth. All of us felt shiny and new and loved ( I know!) after we heard Brené.
Humour and humility. Share stories, every charismatic person is a great storyteller, but their stories are not the ‘how great I am’ stories but story that show them in their human frailty and use humour and humility.
Charm not smarm. Charisma and charm are like basil and tomatoes. But the key is the charm has to be genuine, a genuine smile, spotting the positive thing to say and a warm handshake.
Off Stage. Charisma is not something you turn off and on. We were in a crowd of people trying to speak with Brené after she stepped off stage and she was being moved along by her conference organisers. Yet I noticed she made time to shake every hand that was proffered, hugged people and stopped to chat even if it was just for a couple of seconds. Her off stage and on stage persona were completely congruent.
I know all of us do and are some of these things some of the time. Our challenge is to ‘Bend it like Brené’, and make it part of who we are. So the next time you have an opportunity to go in ego and guns blazing or elevate someone else chose the latter and watch your charisma grow.