August 28, 2012 by Jeff Hurt
During my three years in high school, I diligently worked on our school yearbook.
I even served as assistant editor and editor of our yearbook.
I enjoyed the design process including creating each two-page spread layout. I also spent many hours making sure that as many of my peers were pictured in candid shots as possible.
Every summer, we would have a yearbook distribution day for the previous years’ students.
Guess what was the first thing each person would do when they received their yearbook?
They would look for their photo.
They would turn to the index and scan the list of names until they found their name. Then they would turn to those pages to find their image. They wanted to see how many times photographers took pictures of them during the school year.
Today, we turn to Facebook to see if our image pops up in our friends’ timeline. When we are tagged, we quickly look to see what our friends are saying about us or what images they’ve posted.
We all want to see how we fit into the big picture. We want to be part of the story. We want to be included.
Much like our high school yearbooks, audiences are looking for themselves in your presentation. They want to know how they fit into your story.
They are asking, “Does this subject have anything to do with me? Is it relevant to my work and life? Is it worth my time? Is there something for me to take away?”
Many presenters fail because they get too wrapped up in their content that they forget their audience. They forget that their audience is tuned in to WIIFM: What’s In It For Me?
When speakers put their presentation above the audience’s needs, they fail. When presenters prioritize their content above how that information can be applied in the lives’ of the listeners, the audience tunes out mentally. It’s up to the presenter to help the audience be able to translate and apply the information.
Most audiences have a unique, self-serving agenda. It’s not a bad thing that we are so self-focused. It actually helps us achieve our goals, manage our time and protect ourselves.
Presenters have to uncover what is most important to their audience in order to know how to approach their topic.
Presenters cannot assume that audiences will automatically share their passion about the subject. Nor can they assume that the listener has the knowledge on why the topic is important.
They have to understand their listeners. How they think. What they feel. What inspires them. As well as how they’re likely to act in any given time.
In short, the presenter has to be interested in their audience as individuals. Too many presenters try to be interesting instead of being sincerely interested in their audience. The best way to be interesting to your audience is to be interested in what your audience is thinking about. Then the presenter can motivate and influence them in a positive way.
In short, once people find their picture in your yearbook (your presentation), they will then want to find yours as well.
What are some questions speakers should ask about the audience and their presentation when they are preparing their message? What causes a listener to move from “so what” to “me too” during a presentation?
Filed Under: Speaker Coaching
Great analogy, Jeff!
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