How to catapult the value an audience gets from your talk

I remember when I was first introduced to the need to define an objective for a talk.

This was quite new to me at the time. Because prior to this, I had reached for PowerPoint as the first action I took. Gah!

So, I was keen to put my new approach into practice at an upcoming event I was hosting. However, I have to say, because it was my first time writing down an objective, I was a little unsure about what I was meant to include.

What I felt I really wanted to achieve were people coming up to me saying “That was amazing”. So I defined my objective as that: To give a really impressive talk and have people come up to me afterwards saying it was awesome.

Now, what I came to realise over time is that was not a good objective….!

Why? Because it was centred on me. It didn’t help narrow down the content I had, or make sure I was focussing on the things the audience would see as valuable. Which is a biiiiiig mistake to make.

It’s kind of like creating a company with the purpose of making money! Of course you want to make money as a result, but it can’t be your driving purpose and reason for existence. It’s soulless and in the end it won’t make you profitable. If you focus on serving your customers and offering and delivering value to them, the money will come!

Well it’s really the same for a talk.

It was a great lesson for me in the importance of focussing on your audience and not on yourself as the speaker.

As soon as I did that, I was able to really hone in on the audience, on what they would be expecting and be delighted to hear about. Only then was I able to design a truly epic talk, that I KNEW they would love. It gave me focus, it gave me purpose and it helped me tailor it.

I delivered an epic talk that night and I got the outcome I was hoping for originally too! BOOM!

Don’t make your content ‘topic’ centric. Make your content ‘audience’ centric.

The concept of giving a gift to your audience

I want you to imagine for a moment that you’re going to a friend’s party. They’re putting on a big bash and they’ve invited a lot of people and spent a fair amount of money on the event, making sure it’s special.

You know you should bring a present, but you’ve left it to the last minute and you don’t have anything. So you grab something from home, wrap it up and take it with you. It’s something you’re not even sure if they’ll like and you feel a bit silly even giving it to them, expect you don’t want to come empty handed.

You arrive at the party, you say “Happy Birthday!” and when you’re handing over the present you feel a bit awkward and you hope they don’t open it in front of you, because you know it’s not that good.

Now, this feeling you’ve got of your friends expectations is amplified when you’re giving a talk, because you’re presenting to lots of people who are expecting a gift! If you don’t think properly about them or what they want, of course you’re going to feel crappy giving a presentation that you aren’t even sure they’re going to like or worse still, one you know is going to flop because you didn’t give it the attention it deserves.

You will not only deliver a talk people will be more interested in, but you’ll feel way better delivering it too. It’s a Win Win!

Alright, so if you’re convinced about the importance of an audience centric objective, now let me share HOW I recommend you approach defining one.

Defining an Audience Centric Objective – 3 Parts

There are 3 key things you need to think about and define ahead of any talk you want an audience to see as valuable. This approach works well wether it’s a talk that’s coming up in 1hr, or if you’ve got weeks or even months to prep for it.

1. WHO

It’s really important to think about who you’re presenting to. Not only who they are, but what their expectations are, what their needs/wants are and what they might already know about this topic. This will make sure it’s relevant and that they’d see the talk as valuable.

If there’s a lot riding on your presentation, it’s important to think about what resistance you might come up to, or what their obstacles are and address these in your talk.

2. WHAT

I like to think first about what I want people to do following my talk. What action do I want to inspire them to take? You don’t want to have lots of actions though, you really only want one, clearly defined action. If you’re telling people to go off in multiple different directions it can get confusing and you’re less likely that they will do them the more actions you have! i.e. Keep it simple, less is more!

Then I think about what they’d need to believe in or understand, in order to take this inspired action and in what order. E.g. They’ll most likely need to know or truly believe in why it’s so important first and then they might need the what/how details.

3. WHY

This last step is often overlooked, but it’s so important. Without a compelling reason why, a value proposition or some benefits that the audience cares about, you’re going to struggle to inspire or influence them to do/follow what it is you’re proposing.

If this is clear to your audience, they’ll be excited to hear what you’re proposing, they’ll be attentive, receptive and on-board with what it is you’re talking about.

It’s all about positioning it to make it clear what’s in it for them.

Designing a talk around the information you want to share and the slides you already have, is like trying to make a meal out of the limited ingredients you have in the fridge … and hoping it will impress people.

It’s most likely it will be a tad old or a tad stale!!

So, next time you’re prepping for a talk, think about it like you’re giving a GIFT to your audience. Design everything around them. It will transform how you approach it and catapult the value your audience will get from it.

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Want more tips and tricks on how you can improve the way you present, end-to-end? My POWERFUL PRESENTER GROUP COACHING PROGRAM goes into every step required to deliver an engaging talk. From the content, to the delivery and the mindset. The next round starts mid year. Find out more here.

Emily Edgeley | PUBLIC SPEAKING COACH | www.emilyedgeley.com