The Secret to Giving a Great Presentation – Focus on the Audience

I started teaching professionals how to transition from their current position or career in professional speaking, November of 2012.  At the time, I never dreamed that this workshop would become a part of my business model.  But, after the first session a core of about 15 people asked me if I could provide monthly workshops and continue giving them the tools, education and the inspiration to succeed in the arena of professional speaking.

So  in addition to my keynoting,  I have been doing a series of speaker trainings (Killer Keynote)  and I love it. I have watched people grow as their confidence soars.  We are now working on a stage with cool lighting and the use of a hand held microphone. I can’t tell you what a huge difference that has made in the quality of their presentations.  Our group keeps evolving as some leave and others join.

They say that teaching/coaching is a two way street and that a good teacher can also learn a great deal from her students.  The thing that keeps coming up for me as I watch and listen to these emerging speakers, is how important it is today for a speaker to be focused on the audience- audience-centric. Many of us (keynote speakers) are presenting new ideas that involve our audiences having to make a change – and in some cases a BIG change.  For most, change is not an easy task.   When we speakers get wrapped up in  content and perspectives we can  lose sight of the struggle that audience members may be feeling. We need to practice empathy.

I first heard the concept of empathy and vulnerability listening to Dr. Brene’ Brown speak here in Houston way back in 2008.  I have been a big fan ever since. After reading Brene’ s Book The Gifts of Imperfection, and doing her online workshop with Oprah, I have come to the conclusion that  be successful a speaker today, you must have to have empathy for your audience. They have to walk in the listener’s shoes so to speak.  You have to let our audience know that you too have been there and you know what it’s like to be stuck,or challenged, or what’s it’s like working with a difficult customer.  Speakers need to make a connection with their audiences.

My advice to speakers and presenters  is to stop being the star of your stories. Imagine how great it would be if speakers  put the spotlight on their audience. As Nancy Duarte has said, the speaker need to shift from being the hero of their presentation to the guide and mentor of the presentation giving the audience a magical gift or special helping them get unstuck.

You have to think of it as, “The speaker needs the audience more than the audience needs the speaker.” (Nancy Duarte) Then you’ll start to approach a material with your audience in mind.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Victoria Cummings

    Not just in the speaking or presenting arenas, but with training delivery as well, I feel like I turned a maturity corner when I realized that very thing. ” I am not the hero.” “The spotlight is not on me.” My job is to facilitate helping the audience get “unstuck” and turn on their own light bulbs.