Want the audience to listen? Make ’em care.

Let’s face it; sometimes we’ve been in our business too long. We’re so well-versed, so immersed, so totally completely “in it” we can’t remotely remember what it was like pre-obsession/thought leader/expert. While it’s great to be super knowledgeable and enthusiastic about our message, it’s not so great to dive right in and begin speaking about it without first ensuring it has meaning – real, significant meaning – for our audience. 

If we’re being honest with ourselves, we often assume, especially when we’re asked to pitch or present our product or service, that our audience already knows the importance of it. We think it is our job to simply describe what makes us different, better, of more value than our competitor. We jump right into “all about us, our product, our service, our mission” before making sure it matters to them. No wonder we’re getting blank stares, yawns, discreet (and not so discreet) phone surfing. Your audience is thinking, “Who cares?”

At bespeak, we begin our presentations by drawing a “picture” for the audience, metaphorically speaking. A picture of their world, their goals and/or problems. Possibly a picture of their industry, their competitors, the economic environment  they’re facing. Rather than beginning with the “All about us and how great our stuff is” show, we begin with them, what they’re worried about or aspiring to. This gets their attention. Why? Because it’s about them. And that’s what they (and all of us, really) care most about. Themselves.

Occasionally, we must create relevance. Our audience may not be aware of a very real threat or a very real opportunity (easily solved or attained by our product or service, mission, etc). We must shine a big bright light on this threat or opportunity, explain it clearly and compellingly before we ever begin talking about our solution. We must create the interest, the relevance to them and their world.  We must make them care.

Before your next presentation, whether it be a formal pitch or an informal informational one. Ask yourself as an audience member; why would I care about this? Why does it matter to me? How will it positively affect my life/work/success? If you can’t answer these questions, STOP, and determine the answers. These will form the beginning of your presentation. The all important part of making them care about your message. Do that and you’ll be heard.

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