Let Me Entertain You

POSTED JUNE 1, 2016 - by Dina Silver

What makes a presentation a compelling, edge of your seat, tell everyone you know what you just experienced event?  Here’s a clue– it is definitely NOT data filled power point slides– those are particularly handy if you’re looking to induce sleep or give folks time to catch up on their emails.

So many of my executive coaching clients find themselves regularly in front of rooms large and small, so the question of what captivates an audience is often on my mind.  My little memory cue for presenters is:  Grab Them, Involve Them, Compel Them, Release Them

For starters, you must grab their attention.  Even if your audience has a real interest in your topic, even if the meeting is small and these are your direct reports, even if you are feeling low in energy and just want to dump your data, if you don’t grab their attention, your information may just seamlessly flow into the stream of endless info that bombards us from every direction 24/7/365.  So think carefully about how you want to start your talk– whether it’s a large formal presentation or a gathering of your team you need to create a compelling reason for them to be fully present.

Okay– you’ve grabbed them with a compelling piece of information, with an urgent issue, with an amazing opportunity, with the purpose of your talk.  Now what?

You must involve your listener in your mission.  You’ve got their attention now let them be part of your experience.  Find a way to share with your audience why you care so much about this topic.  If you can get them curious to know more, you have them in the palm of your hand.  Sometimes the best way to involve an audience is through story, sometimes a photo will catch the core of your mission, sometime a powerful graph or chart can land with enormous power.  The extraordinary jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin was teaching a large audience about our intrinsic understanding of the pentatonic scale.  Check out how he Grabbed and Involved his entire audience. You can bet that every person in that room was delighted, learned something about the pentatonic scale and went on to share the experience with others.

Next step?  Compel your audience into action.  What do you need your team to do?  If the audience is larger, what is your request of them that takes them from sitting and listening to incorporating your thoughts into their lives or their work?

And finally, Release your audience.  Don’t hold them a moment longer than you need to.  Time is precious, so speak and go quiet.  If your presentation is to a small group and there is the chance to bring them into the conversation do so.  People learn by participating.  If you are in front of a large hall, choose your words crisply, don’t tell stories that are funny but irrelevant.  Stay on point and grab, involve, compel and release.

Tags: high-impact presentations, presentation skills, public speaking

Category: Executive Coaching, Tools for Managers and Leaders