To win over your audience, you must connect emotionally.
With well-chosen words, you can open your presentation and establish an immediate emotional bond.
s a presentation skills coach, when I work with a group, I’ll invite individuals to come to the front and deliver their opening lines. On one occasion, up walked Stephen. He began to tell the facts of his experience of living with deafness since birth. After he spoke, the audience was sympathetic; however, he had not made a connection. He was also missing an opportunity.
I took him aside and suggested he try a different approach. Stephen spoke again saying, “Imagine how my parents felt as the doctor walked into the waiting room and said, ‘I am so sorry to tell you this, but your beautiful boy is deaf.’” He painted a vivid picture of this pivotal moment in his parents’ lives. Whether or not audience members were parents themselves, they were able to emotionally connect with the situation. You could feel a change in the room.
You have many theatrical choices in how you open your presentation.
Remember, to foster true engagement, always let your audience know you have their best interests at heart. Too often, presenters will start with, “I am going to talk about…” or, “What I would like to do first is….” The reality is, nobody cares about what a speaker plans or wants to do. Your audience cares about whether or not your message is relevant to their own interests and concerns.
Craft your opening to establish an immediate emotional connection with your audience.
You can turn the “I want to…” and “I am going to…” statements around. Start with your powerful opening to create emotional connection, and then follow this with you-focused language. For example, “In the next forty-five minutes, you will learn four specific ways that you can transform your organization.”
I recommend that you record your presentation and have it transcribed. What we think we say, and what we actually say, can be very different. When you review your presentation, consider it objectively from your audience’s perspective. Or, even better, ask others to give you an objective evaluation, as I did when I coached Stephen. He had a wonderful story to tell, yet it took an outside observer to help him tell his story in a way that would immediately connect with his audience.
Powerful and persuasive presentations connect with an audience on both an intellectual and emotional level.
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