Whether you are sitting across a desk from an interviewer, sitting around a table in a conference room, or standing on stage in an auditorium full of people, your audience is looking for ONE BIG THING from you. No, they don’t want you to be funny, or breathtakingly beautiful, or mind-blowingly brilliant. Those things are all nice and fine (and kudos to you if you are any or all of these). What they want is for you to solve their problem. Period.
Unfortunately, as presenters we tend to focus on us and our message rather than on the audience and their needs. We build our presentation with things we want to talk about. When we do think about the audience we worry that we’re not funny enough, or attractive enough or smart enough. We spend all of our time and energy thinking, planning and worrying about ourselves. A total waste because audiences don’t care about us. They’re not there for us (unless they’re our mother).
Audiences are there because they have a problem and they want us to help them solve it.
That, and only that, is the ONE BIG THING they want.
A job interview is a perfect example. Most of us think of this scenario as one where the interviewer is going to DO something for us. The interviewer is going to solve our problem by giving us a job. Nope. The interviewer is the audience; he or she is listening to you, the presenter, hoping and praying that you will be the person to solve his or her problem. The Problem? The interviewer has work that needs to get done and needs the right person to do that work. The ONE BIG THING the interviewer needs is for you to show him or her that you are the person to do this work.
Formal presentations, be they to small or large groups, work exactly the same way. The audience has assembled to hear how you can solve their problem. Whether it’s a growth initiative to a board of directors or a presentation on perfecting your elevator pitch to conference attendees, the audience is listening to hear how you will solve their problem or help them solve the problem themselves. They could care less if you’re funny or easy on the eyes or the smartest thing on the planet. That’s your problem – and the last thing on their minds.
So please, stop agonizing over your inability to be a comedian, or the 10 pounds you can’t seem to lose, or the fact that you’re not a Mensa member. Nobody cares. (Well, nobody in your audience anyway). They care about themselves and about their problem. Solve it for them and you will have given a successful presentation. And you will definitely, gratefully be heard.