Monthly Archives: August 2022

Reframe Your Presentation Once You Truly Know Your Audience

No two people are truly identical. Similarly, the reason each member of an audience comes to hear your presentation is not the same. Yes, there is a common denominator – but each person has a different approach and your points have to resonate with the recipient. 

This challenge has increased substantially during the pandemic as groups attend Zoom and Team meetings, with speakers showing up at the last minute and not really understanding the individual needs within the audience. As we move back to in-person meetings, this approach will no longer be acceptable.

For instance, people take different approaches when faced with a challenge. Some are:

  • Learners –  focused on understanding the context;
  • Problem solvers – focused on identifying causes and possible solutions;
  • Decision-makers – focused on taking action.

Similarly, some are:

  • Individuals – seeking information with which to make their decision.
  • Members of teams – responsible for gathering information and sharing it so others can make a decision
  • Leaders of teams – responsible for reframing the information gathered and presenting it so the team makes the “fight” decision

One last example. Imagine you’re speaking to a company about forging a stronger culture. There are many issues that might be on the mind of different individuals.  

  • What’s the most important content issue: trust, respect, continuous improvement?  
  • What’s the biggest process issue: onboarding, ongoing communication, understanding? 
  • What’s the biggest audience-relationship issues: employees-to-employees, employees-to customers, leaders/management to workers?

So, as you return to the world of in-person presentations, take the extra time to truly understand your audience and gear your presentation to meet their primary needs!

What Mistakes are You Making?

When we prepare presentations and deliver them, we make lots of decisions concerning data, content, conclusions, when and how to present them, and what approach to use. 

Even the smartest people make mistakes.  In times of economic, social and other turbulence, and when working under time-pressures, it makes sense to try to do everything possible to avoid making them. Some may be reversible – but others are not. Remember, you have only one chance to make a favorable first impression, and there’s only one chance to make a final presentation to a buyer.

Recently, Jeff Hayden noted that there are several categories of decision-making errors.  To help you avoid some or all of these seven types of  classic strategic mistakes, here they are:

  1. Thinking you have more information than you actually do
  2. Thinking you already know enough
  3. Thinking you know more about what people want or need than you really do
  4. Solving a problem with a solution that doesn’t work
  5. Confusing action with results
  6. Mistaking inaction for patience or wisdom
  7. Allowing for compound errors:  letting one bad decision lead to other bad decisions.  (With “cascade iatrogenesis”, erroneously analyzing data can create entirely new problems, including some with irreversible outcomes).

Excellence presentation coaches focus not just on the positive skills you need to acquire to design and present a great presentation, but also how to avoid some of these errors.  For instance, if your audience is a member of a team that will make a decision, convincing the “buyer” of the wisdom to buy is only part of the solution; her/his ability to communicate it perfectly to the rest of the team all-too-often- determines whether they buy into it or not.

Which errors do you mostly commit? What can you do to avoid them?  We’re here to help!

Don’t Micro-Manage; Inspire Your People

As a manager, you manage tasks; as a leader, you influence people.  It’s time to focus on the latter role.

In the old work of command-and-control, managers could walk around and help people manage their tasks.  Sometimes it was constructive; too often it deteriorated into micro-management.

One of the positive after-effects of the pandemic is that we need to jettison micro-management which does not elevate workers and drains supervisors.  As Steven M.R. Covey notes in Trust & Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others, as leaders, we can inspire workers to be the best they can be, through mutual trust and serving as role models. We need to take some time to understand each worker, and how to help her/him unleash their potential for personal and professional growth. By doing so, we communicate that we care – and that’s the key to building a trusted relationship. Especially post-pandemic, workers want purpose; “they want to contribute their talents, skills and time to something significant and meaningful.”

To help  workers grow, leaders need to identify the (1) responsibilities for which workers are responsible, (2)  standards of performance to meet, and (3) ways they can acquire new skills, mindsets and talents to improve in order to increase their contribution to the company mission. Using the Accountable4Success.com (A4S) system, each manager and worker have regular feedback discussions on job performance, contributing to the company’s culture, and learning new leadership skills.

The result is more employee engagement and greater productivity: two other potential after-effects of the pandemic!

Time to Get to Know Your Clients Better?

A keystone of Presentation Excellence training is ADAP – making sure that all your presentations are Audience Drive, Authentic Presentations.  After the pandemic, home lockdowns, and return to virtual and hybrid offices, this principle applies not only to formal presentations, but also the information ones with workers we’re no longer interacting with regularly – and therefore may not be as connected as we once were. The current economic slowdown or recession heightens the importance of really knowing our audience and making sure what we say and do resonates with them, now.

Soren Kaplan’s article, Empathy: The Currency of Human Connection and Innovation, drives this point home. 

Over the past two years, people have changed in ways we may not readily understand. Whether we’re communicating with clients/customers, employees, investors, strategic allies, etc., understanding what the audience needs to know at any given time, translates into having an empathetic relationship with them. We should not assume that we understand our customers current needs based on prior experiences. Before preparing the presentation, immerse yourself in their world. Find out what their needs are, and if appropriate, include innovations that will meet their newly developed needs. That will generate opportunities. 

Take to heart his recommendation that you connect with a customer to understand their needs based on what they now:

  • Explicitly say
  • Emotionally evoke
  • Think about
  • Do in public and private

By doing so, you will convert observations into insights; that will enable you to provide more value to the customer and close the deal.

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