Even the most tenured presenters receive challenging requests to speak. Just such a request came to me several months ago. I was asked to speak to a large group of consultants on the topic of leading successful sales operations teams. The challenge – this is a firm that has written and published more than five books on this subject!The organization, ZS Associates, is also fervent in their commitment to training all their associates in these concepts and ideas. So, here I was, presenting to people who see themselves as experts.
My first question? How do I connect with this audience? I took lots of notes and mulled many ideas over as I thought about constructing this presentation. As the page filled up, I went back to basics. I evaluated the audience. These questions led to the answer:
- What is the composition of my listeners? (Names/roles)
- What is their current reality? (Knowledge of my topic)
- What is their attitude towards me?
- What are their individual needs?
- How will they rate the success of the presentation?
This was an audience in their mid twenties, very technically savvy and highly educated. These are people who write presentations themselves every week, and they knew my topic backwards and forwards. But, they often did not get a bird’s eye view of how all the concepts worked day to day in corporate America. They did have a high expectation of my visual aids due to water cooler conversations with my colleagues, and they needed to hear how their concepts are used in successful companies. I also knew they were not required to stay for my entire talk. They could leave at any time if they wanted. That’s a great challenge.
I quickly started to make sense of weeks of my chicken scratch notes. I knew I had to make a connection fast that would gain their attention and drive them to stop thinking about a reason to leave. I pulled out every trick I had in the bag. I engaged them with a question immediately to start a dialogue. I brought my best stories and factoids and used concepts early on that would get everyone to nod and agree we were on the same page.
Stay tuned for part II – the presentation!
After completing the Communicate to Win workshop, you will have the most compelling argument and the best ideas. With this complete package, you will gain the tools necessary to guarantee that you have the best ideas and that you can present them confidently so you will WIN. Read what participants say.
photo by Katrina Snaps. Used by permission.