Presentation Tip #007: Respect your audience; they might know what you know, or more

#FILWP TIP 007:  YOUR AUDIENCE MIGHT NOW WHAT YOU KNOW, OR MORE

It always fascinates me (and for some reason provokes an internal giggle) when I go to a talk, event or workshop and the speaker assumes that none of us in the audience know anything about the subject.  Since it’s an easy (and expensive) mistake to make, #FILWP Tip 007 will help you avoid it and as all the other tips in the series, it’s so easy to implement, with lots (and lots) of benefits for you and your audiences.

Speakers even sometimes explain the concepts as if they’re talking to a small child who is of really very little intelligence and/or has no idea of what they’re talking about.  If you present to children, remember they they also know ‘stuff’!

ARROGANT AND SUPERIOR?

If a speaker actually felt arrogant and superior and intentionally and consciously wanted to convey that to their audience, then that’s their choice, of course.  Presenting with that attitude won’t create an emotional state that is conducive to learning for most people in the audience, and that is, of course, their prerogative and none of my business 🙂

However, in my experience this behaviour usually comes from a speaker being a bit nervous and so passionate about their topic that they did not for a moment consciously consider that others in the audience might already know what they know, or more.

Yes of course you get arrogant and ‘superior’ speakers too, it’s just that in my experience they are few and far between).

IT’S ABOUT THE IMPACT, NOT THE INTENTION

Whatever the weather and whatever their intentions, the consequences of assuming that the audience isn’t quite as smart as you or speaking to them in that way, are dire.

Few people like being treated like idiots and if you treat your audience like they are, chances are they’re not going to like it, and they’re going to rebel.  Consciously or unconsciously, overtly or covertly, rebel they will.

THE SOLUTION

The solution, as always, is very, very simple, and it also goes hand in hand with one of the fundamental principles of Fall in Love with Presenting, and that is to simply, every now and again, ask the audience.

That way you might learn a thing or two by not only respecting butE.g.

  • Instead of assuming that no-one has (or that everyone has) heard of someone or read a particular book, ask, “Has anyone heard of so-and-so or read the book ‘ABC’ by ‘so and so??”
  • Instead of assuming that no-one knows what the main cause is of xyz-disease (or poverty, or addiction, or whatever your topic is) is, ask, “What do you think the main causes are of ..?”
  • instead of assuming that no-one has heard of a particular word, technique, abbreviation or concept, ask, ‘How many of you have heard of XYZ?”

TAKING IT FURTHER

And then, of course, since you’re a brave one, you can always take it further.  (Why wouldn’t you?!).

Here are some examples of truly engaging your audience every step of the way:

  • Even though most people might have heard of the word ‘integrity’ (or flow, or triple bypass, or whatever you’re talking about), why not ASK them what the word means to them before you blast them with yours?  
  • Even though you have your ‘top 3 reasons why businesses fail’ (or why teenagers become addicts, or why your company did so well last year), why not move towards a conversation rather than a speech or a monologue and ask your audience what they think?

MONOLOGUE OR CONVERSATION?

Now we’re talking…  or more to the point, now you’ve turned a monologue into a conversation.  This will make your presentation infinitely more interesting for your audience, and a lot easier for you, since you’ll now no longer be the focal point of all attention.

COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS OR FEEDBACK?

Please post your comments, suggestions and feedback below; I’d love to hear from you.

THE COMPLETE #FILWP SERIES

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