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Presentation hacks to win over a crowd

How to strike the balance of emotive and analytical content to ensure a memorable presentation

Do you remember the last time you sat in a room listening to a presentation that you had no interest in or wasn’t relevant to you? You likely felt frustrated, bored, annoyed, even. Now what if you were the presenter? How frustrating or annoying would it be to have people ignore you and your point of view?

For a presentation to be powerful, for it to win over your audience, you must make them the hero of your presentation.

That means you need to think about their needs, why they made time to see you present and why they should care about what you’re saying.

Remember every presentation has a goal, whether it’s to sell a big idea, share results or simply educate. It’s vital you create common ground with your audience, to connect with and engage them right from the beginning, so that they feel inspired to go out and act, not crawl into bed and sleep.

Understand who you’re talking to

Who is in your audience and why are they coming to your presentation? Finding out the demographics and their roles is a good start, but you also have to dig a bit deeper than that. What problem are you solving for them? What specific needs and pain points are you addressing?

At the end of the day, most people want to know how you’re going to make life easier for them. If you have an understanding of who is in the audience, how they are feeling about being there and why they should care about what you’re saying, you can tailor your message to suit their needs.

Find and share common interests

Once you are clear on who is in the room and why, your goal is to find and share some common interests so that your audience thinks you’re credible and trusts what you are saying.

‘Talking the talk’ isn’t enough. Most people can sniff out a sales spiel a mile away. Remember we buy from people that we like, so your audience needs to connect with you – the person presenting the message.

Perhaps you all have a desire to fix the same challenge, an interest in a certain technology or a passion to change the industry. Think carefully about what you all might have in common and use it to your advantage to build authentic rapport.

Make an emotional connection

The only way to reach your audience and truly influence them into action is to take them on an enthralling journey with you. You need to learn to tell a story that will pull on everyone’s heartstrings and make your message memorable.

Most corporate presentations focus heavily on the hard facts and current stats, but research tells us that it is emotion that drives our decisions. Buy-in is based on how we feel about something, not whether all the numbers add up.

Use images to evoke emotion if it’s appropriate to your cause. Tell stories that are relevant to what you are saying and support your slides.

Your goal is to strike the right balance of analytical and emotional content to fit your audience. Find the right balance of fact and feeling. This is how you’ll win them over and inspire them to act (not sleep), each and every time you present.

Emma Bannister is passionate about presenting big, bold, beautiful ideas. She is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio, APAC’s largest presentation communication agency, and author of Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations.

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