Earlier today I had the opportunity to present to a group of new entrepreneurs at Ann Arbor SPARK’s Start Your Own Business. SYOB is a monthly event hosted by the business incubator to help drive new business development. I’m one of the speakers at this day-long event.
How I present was largely driven by corporate experience. What little training I could find, focused on what size fonts to use, color selection, number/length of bullets per screen, and the like. Believe it or not, none of it really had much to do with delivering an impactful message.
The past two years I have been increasingly attentive to how I give presentations. My favorite person on the topic is Garr Reynolds, an American ex-pat living in Tokyo, and author of PresentationZen. Most recently, I’ve started reading Nancy Duarte’s book, Resonate.
For this morning’s presentation I chucked my planned approach about 15 minutes before the event. Rather than open with an ‘about me’ slide, or simply diving right in, I took a few minutes to simply ask the audience what their concerns were. Then I framed my presentation as a possible solution to those concerns.
Ok, for the better speakers among us, this is melodramatic. What I did find, was the audience warmed up to me more quickly. I’d like to think I more effectively connected by simply asking them what their concerns were, rather than ‘assuming’ I knew. Even though I’ve been doing this particular activity for a year, it helps to remember each audience is fresh, and they want their concerns to be understood.
The short message for today: Don’t Forget the Audience! You’re presenting for them. Anything you get out of it, is a bi-product. Any business you get is a result of their being onboard with you. And, you know, it can make it a lot more fun for everyone involved.