Speakers must engage with their audience and wed them to their message when delivering their pitch, presentation, or speech.
Oftentimes speakers use visual aids excessively and unnecessarily, and this inappropriate use merely distracts rather than enhances their presentation or pitch. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t use Powerpoint or Keynote when he delivered his “I have a dream speech” at the Lincoln Memorial in 1953.
One of my key themes when helping clients with their presentations, pitching, and public speaking is “Know Your Client”; everything you do and say in a presentation should be geared towards your client and you have to appeal to, and speak to, the client who is sat before you.
You should begin to Know Your Client before you deliver your pitch or presentation. You will need to understand who they are; what their objectives are; their areas of interest; their purpose for listening to you; only then can you truly begin to think about the content of your presentation and the most effective form of delivery.
If you have considered the above points, and that includes a consideration of how best to deliver your message, then you will succeed in engaging your audience.
Of course, depending on the type of presentation you are delivering, you may not have time to prepare and research the audience. You may be asked to deliver a presentation at short notice. But this should not pose a problem; if you know your material or subject then you should be able to deliver an effective presentation with minimal notice, and by observing and listening to your audience you will be able to adapt what you say and how you say it during the course of the actual presentation itself.
If due to the short notice you don’t have any slides then this may be for the better, as you will be able to speak more naturally and freely and not feel compelled to follow the strict order and contents of a slide presentation.
As an effective speaker you must also understand that there is no one way to deliver your presentation successfully, and that you may have to tailor your content and your approach to the specific audience before you; just because the presentation went well at 9.00am with one company or investor does not mean it will go well at 2.00pm with a different company or investor.
Speakers often forget that their first priority is to identify the objective of their presentation and think about how that can purpose can best be achieved for the specific audience before them. This may or may not mean using Powerpoint or Keynote, depending on the audience and the purpose of the presentation/pitch.
It is crucial that your presentation should meet the objectives that you as speaker set out to achieve. No more. No less. Every word in your presentation should be there because it is necessary; if you know your client then this is more likely to be so.
When I work with my clients I get them to extend their comfort zone and practice presenting without slides or other aids so that they really think about their message and effectively use their personality, body language, and language skills to successfully get their message across. Then we consider how visual and audio aids might be used appropriately to enhance what they are saying. If the audio or visual aids don’t enhance their message then they are not used.
I always say to my clients “What is the most powerful audio and visual aid in the world – if used properly? You!”.
Author: Lee Phanurat-Bennett, MD, Accordant Co., Ltd