Marketing Strategy

For Successful Presentations, Treat Them More Like Conversations

Susan Quinn 02.20.2014 2 Minutes

Thousands of presentations are given every week in every industry. But how many of them will actually be memorable? How many people in the audience will actually be engaged, and not just thinking about what’s for lunch?

Presentations are about making impressions, about making a connection with the audience. But most resort to being formulaic — simply going through the motions of getting the content across, and that’s it.

People make decisions based on emotion. The facts and figures are just there to help them justify those decisions. So what can you focus on to help make your presentations a bit more emotional, and a lot more memorable?

Forget about the word presentation. Replace it with conversation. Then think about what happens in everyday conversation, and apply it to your presentation. Here are a few tips for your next presentation.

Use eye contact

In everyday conversation, you use eye contact to connect with the person you’re talking to.

In presentations, when there’s a projector involved, presenters have tendencies to talk to the screen. But you can’t convince a screen. The screen isn’t a person. It can’t buy into your business or idea.

Engaging the people you’re pitching to with eye contact makes what you’re saying more genuine and more authentic. But more importantly, it makes them pay attention to you and what you’re saying.

Share stories

In everyday conversation, you share stories.

Story-telling is a method for weaving in emotion and empathy into a presentation. It’s a way to not only break up the content you’re presenting, but to open your presentation with something a lot more powerful than jumping into a table of contents slide.

Be yourself

In everyday conversation, you’re being yourself. There’s no script.

While there’s a definite need to be prepared and to have spent time rehearsing, you never want it to just sound like a sales pitch — which never sound natural.

You’re not a robot. You’re not a recording. You’re simply you, talking about something you believe in — because you want others to believe in it, too. It can be that simple and authentic.

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Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

It’s time to approach presentations less like presentations and more like conversations — to not just go through the motions but to engage in the audience’s emotions and make an impression that truly lasts.

About The Author

Susan is a trusted advisor to the C-suite, helping leadership teams define a strategic vision that will propel growth for their companies. Through candid discussions and provocative questions she brings a fresh lens to defining and prioritizing what truly matters.

Learn More About Susan
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