I think it is time for those of us who make presentations as part of our routine work to change the way we think about them, their purpose, and the role of the audience to whom we present. My thoughts are inspired by chapter two of “Communicating to Influence: How to Inspire Your Audience to Action”
I find that when most managers and executives give presentations they take an approach that is far from inspiring. They rarely seem to consider the fact that the presentation is really about inspiring the audience to want to do something. Presentations are too often information dumps where the value of the presentation is measured by its length, not by the depth and importance of the content or the inspiring nature of the message and messenger.
Imagine a time when you speak to a group of people and when you are done you are fighting off volunteers eager to help you see your vision into reality. Can’t imagine that? Well, that is what you and I should be aiming at every time we speak to a group of people. And this axiom is not limited to the strict confines of the board room or auditorium presentation stage. The call to inspire extends to staff meetings, one on one coaching meetings, and chance encounters by the water cooler. To inspire is the privilege and burden of the leader.
Here are some tips to plan to inspire people. Yes you need to plan for this!
- Speak less, not more – the principle of brevity is key to inspiring others
- Destroy or at least seriously limit your PowerPoint – If you need to leave content, do so, but not in your presentation
- Make it graphical – if you do use a presentation, use graphics to capture attention and get people focused on you
- Plan and Practice
- Get feedback and act on it
- Seriously ask yourself – would I be inspired by this presentation?
The authors of “Communicate to Influence” say that “your charge is to take those in your audience from feeling that they ‘have to’ do what you ask to feeling that they ‘want to’ do what you propose. It’s time for transformation, and that means its time for you to go beyond merely informing your listeners. (pg 47)”
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