My late mother- in- law used to tell a great joke. A man comes in after a day of golf, and his wife asks, “How was golf, honey?” “Terrible.” he replies. “On the third tee George dropped dead.” “Oh my Lord! That’s awful!” the wife exclaimed. “What did you do?” “Well,” the husband sighed, “for the rest of the day it was; hit the ball, drag George.”
Of course this joke always gets a laugh because it illustrates the obsession and single mindedness of some of the golfers among us. But I got to thinking about it a different way. What if we were giving a presentation we’d developed without our audience in mind? We’d filled it to the brim with all of our insider jargon words and acronyms. We described the inner workings of our doodads and thingamabobs in intricate detail. We were sure to include every factoid we could find about our beloved product or service, our business, even ourselves. We lovingly clicked through our massive deck of slides, smiling and smiling and feeling all aglow, proud as punch to be reading bullet after bullet about, well, us.
Then, when the big day comes, we stand in front of our audience and we begin our presentation. Sure enough on about the 4th slide our “George” (the audience), drops dead, metaphorically speaking. Realistically speaking, they simply stop listening. Their eyes glaze over, they surf their cell phones. Throats are cleared, restrooms are visited, seats are vacated. And yet, on and on we go, hitting our presentation “ball” and dragging our audience along with us.
We know that what makes my mother in law’s joke funny is that the golfer’s priorities are all messed up. The focus should have been on (say it with me now) GEORGE! That’s right, just as our focus should be the audience, NOT ourselves, our product, our company.
The most important part of any presentation is the audience. You want them ALIVE, engaged and attentive, nodding their heads in understanding and agreement. They should be eagerly following you from “tee” (point) to tee. Never ever should they be dead weight you’re dragging through your presentation. Remember George. Never forget your audience. And you’ll be heard.