The only 3 rules you will ever need for any presentation

keep-calm-follow-the-rulesIn a recent meeting a CEO confessed, ‘Numbers excite me but the last time I presented, I noticed everyone else’s eyes glazing over’.

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. 


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  • kuradji

    “Humans are hard wired around giving anything that is relevant to them a 100% of our attention.”.
    Except when they have access to a mobile phone.
    I was recently in a meeting where staff were losing their jobs. So HUGE self-interest on part of everyone in the room, right? When it came to question time one guy asked a very specific question about his specific situation. ((There’s 30 of us, we’d have all like to ask “… but what about MEEEEE?)). As the GM started to answer, the guy’s mobile vibrated. So he pulled it out of his pocket AND STARTED READING HIS TEXT AND TXTING BACK. He finished about the same time the GM finished answering his question. He then looked up and EXPECTED THE ANSWER TO BE REPEATED NOW HE WAS READY TO BE BOTHERED LISTENING!!!!!!.
    So 2013.!

    • Yamini Naidu

      That is a shocking example, and I am inspired about a post that talks about audience behaviour. And of course to presenters out there even if you are a 100% relevant, you will not connect with 100% of the people, 100% of the time.
      Thanks for sharing.

  • Andrew Wilson-Annan

    Thanks for the piece guys, reminded me of a saying that has stayed with me for years:

    “Show them how much you care, before you show them how much you know”

    • Gabrielle Dolan

      Andrew, so very true.

      Thanks for sharing. Gabrielle

    • Yamini Naidu

      Andrew love that insight, and so easy to forget. My other favourite one byDr Stephen Covey is ‘Seek to understand before being understood’.
      Thanks for sharing.

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