Are you presenting soon? — 6 things your audience really need from you

Do you find yourself presenting at work?

If you do, please keep in mind that your audience have very specific needs.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow released a psychology paper called ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’, suggesting we each live by 6 fundamental human needs.

Physiological: what we need for survival

Safety: what we need to feel safe and secure

Love and belonging: a need to feel loved

Esteem: a need to be accepted and valued

Self-actualization: a need to reach our fullest potential

Self-Transcendence: the need for a higher goal outside oneself, in altruism and spirituality

This hierarchy still remains extremely popular today in sociology, psychology, management and leadership.

It has its place in high impact presenting and public speaking too.

Tony Robbins, a recognized authority in the psychology of leadership and motivation presents a similar hierarchy. His has a colourful contemporary twist.

Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure

Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli

Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed

Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something

Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding

Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others

Whether you prefer Maslow’s or Robbins’ view of the world, I’m mindful of how these needs apply to both presenters and audiences alike.

If you have the priviliege of presenting at work, it’s worth making the effort to understand these needs.

It is incumbent on any presenter to carefully consider and cater for their audiences needs when presenting. At Mindful Presenter we believe that Abraham Maslow and Tony Robbins have given us the perfect platform to do so.

Certainty

The moment you begin to speak, your audience needs a level of assurance, comfort and certainty that:

– You have something of value to say and share with them that will make a difference to them either personally or professionally.

– You know what you are talking about.

– You will respect and value their time.

– You will get to the point and keep to it.

– You will make them feel something.

– You will solve a problem for them, create an opportunity, inspire them, clarify something for them or entertain them.

As you prepare your presentation, make sure that everything you plan to share is designed to give them the certainty they need. The best way to do so is to put yourself in their position; ask yourself whether you are meeting these needs.

Uncertainty

This is probably the most onerous challenge for even the most experienced presenter. When it comes to presenting, it means being different. This of course conflicts with the need for certainty.

Many business presentations today lack a point of differentiation.

When you are presenting its worth thinking about how you can surprise your audience a little. The mindful presenter will challenge status quo.

You can do that by:

– Getting them involved by making your presentation interactive and asking them questions.

– Asking them to close their eyes and imagine something.

– Getting them to stand up and physically do something.

– Getting them to turn to someone, or simply raise their hands.

– Telling them stories ( relevant ones).

– Being excited and passionate about what you are sharing.

– Not memorizing your presentation.

– Being relaxed and spontaneous

– Playing music, using humour, props, videos, polling your audience, etc.

– Using ice breakers and energisers

– Letting your audience drive the presentation — lay out all of your main points, and then let them choose which topics they want to focus on.

Significance

The most common mistake we see at Mindful Presenter is self-promotion.

The key to mindful presenting is remembering that your presentation is all about your audience; not you.

It’s not only the most common mistake, it’s the biggest too. It’s completely contrary to what your audience actually needs.

It’s our job as presenters to make our audience feel as if they are the only people that matter in that moment.

We each have an innate desire to be recognised, respected and appreciated. When presenting we can fulfil those desires for our audience by ensuring that our content is mindfully crafted and exclusively for them.

To achieve that, preparation and empathy are the key.

Get to know as much as you possibly can about your audience before you even begin to prepare your presentation. Try to put yourself in their shoes and really begin to understand who they are, how they feel and what they need from you.

Once you begin to understand them you can think about how you can respect, value and reqard their time.

Connection

At Mindful Presenter our tagline is ‘connecting is everything’; that’s what we live by and coach when it comes to presenting.

Your audience wants to feel connected to you and connected to your message. It’s only in your sincere attempt to create that connection that will you achieve that sense of union, understanding and belonging.

Making that connection is not as difficult as it may seem. You can begin by:

– Talking about what your audience needs to hear, not what you want to say.

– Being open, personal and even a little vulnerable; show them who you really are.

– Telling them stories they can relate to that illustrate your point and bring it to life.

– Having a sense of humour — That doesn’t mean telling them jokes; it just means being a little light hearted and not taking yourself too seriously.

– Making genuine and sincere eye contact.

– Smiling, relaxing and being the very best version of you that you can be.

– Giving them a gift. During presentation training workshops I personally lead, I often give out a copy of my book ‘Hamster to Harmony.’

Growth

For many people this is the biggest challenge of all when presenting. For some, it’s not even part of their thinking.

The moment you remind yourself that your job as a presenter is to help your audience to grow in some way, everything changes.

– Growth in knowledge

– Growth in understanding

– Growth in insight

– Growth in appreciation

– Growth in positive results

– Growth emotionally and intellectually

The opportunity to inspire change and help an audience to grow in some way is an immense honour. Let the opportunity serve as the catalyst for you to turn a presentation from a speech to a memorable growth experience.

Contribution

Most presentations are designed to inspire or initiate some form of action; at the end, you normally want your audience to do something.

Interestingly, that’s the point where many presentations fall short. If you are presenting to lead change, don’t let your ending fizzle out like a damp firework. Don’t leave your audience wondering why they just sat through the last 20 minutes.

Tell them exactly what you want them to do with the ideas or information presented to them.

Contrary to popular belief, most audience are not only happy to but expect you to have them do something. If they have connected with you and your message they will welcome the idea of being of service and to contribute in some way.

Your job is to get them to that point where they want to do so. Make it abundantly clear how they can contribute and how you can to help them to do so.

Watch Tony Robbins elaborate on the 6 human needs in this TED Talk ‘Why we do what we do’. Consider carefully how these may apply to your audience at your next presentation.

Tony Robbins just so happens to be one of my personal favourite speakers and you’ll see why from this video.

Many years ago I flew to New Jersey in the US to spend the weekend with Tony teaching me and several thousand other people to do the ‘fire walk’; an experience I would highly recommend. Not only do you get to learn from one of the world’s most respected speakers, you get to fulfil a few of these human needs too.

If you are presenting soon and need a little help with these needs:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and public speaking coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

Image: Courtesy of flickr.com