September 22, 2011

If it matters to you, it can matter to your audience



A client recently told me that part of her problem around creating an engaging presentation about the work she does is that "It's just a job." She will be introducing her company as a sponsor at an industry networking event soon, and she has no real motivation to speak. She has no emotional connection to the work and therefore can't see how to make it exciting for the audience.

We talk a lot in the public speaking world about "What's in it for the audience," but in this case, I think it's critical that my client ask, "What's in it for me?"

As a speaker, we are frequently put in the position of giving presentations we don't care much about. A department report in a staff meeting, a compliance presentation, a discussion of company financials that only 5% of your audience understands: Sometimes we just don't have any enthusiasm for our topic. At the same time, we're told to make our topic engaging and interesting for the audience. What to do?

First, ask yourself, "What's in it for me?"

What DO you love about your job? What makes you want to do the work you do? Where do you find satisfaction? What accomplishments make you feel good about your work?

In the case of my client, she enjoyed knowing that, by training employees how to succeed on a particular kind of test, she was helping them achieve goals to further their careers. By helping these employees succeed on the test, she was also making the industry better for all of us who are consumers of that industry. We talked about how to make that the focus of her speech; if that's what she cares about, let's make the audience care about it, too. And it will be a much more interesting speech than, "Here's what we do... we have x numbers years of experience... we are customer-oriented... hire us."

Deep down inside, we can always find the thing that clicks about a topic. If you want to persuade your audience to do something, whether it's hire you, purchase your product, give to your cause or just tell others about your company, you have to dig down and find that thing. When you find it, it's like gold, because it MATTERS to you. And if it matters to you, you can make it matter to the audience.

For more on finding the emotional appeal in your topic, read:

It's just emotion

There is no such thing as a dry topic

Don't forget the emotional appeal

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