Matching Presentation Content to Audience
Your words are powerful.
You know your crowd, and have identified the audience benefit.
And now you seek to create the most effective presentation for this specific situation.
You sit down and begin to plan the message.
What to do? What approach would be most effective? How can you move the listener in the direction of your goal?
To persuade the audience to change, you must provide relevant facts and compelling reasons. As you do this, keep an important fact in mind: the audience wants to know what is in it for them.
What are some presentation content options?
Presentation Content Options
Here are three presentation content options to consider:
There are many ways to share statistics. Charts, graphs, tables, and word clouds can all be useful when used appropriately. Be careful when using charts and graphs. It is easy (and tempting) to crop your visuals in misleading ways. Not only is this morally wrong, but it is also risky. If you seem deceptive, it will take a long time to rebuild trust. Seek to be a reliable reporter of the present and a trustworthy guide for the future. Make sure that all data is accurate, up-to-date, and well-presented.
Another option is to tell stories. Stories are powerful. If you can share statistics and back them up with a specific story, it will give life to the numbers. It places a human face on the stats. In the early 2000s, I worked with a growing church. They had a welcoming family atmosphere and wanted more people to experience it. This desire for growth meant that they were tracking attendance records and the effectiveness of various programs. However, they did not want to lose sight of the fact that their goal was to serve people—each person being special and unique. So, they adopted the slogan “Our Numbers Have Names” as a reminder of the priority. Your idea affects people. Those people have faces; they have names. The stories you tell can put a human face on the concept that you are presenting. I just told a story to emphasize this point!
- Sense of Calling
A third option is to create a sense of calling. This is a good choice if you are challenging the audience to make a sacrifice for the greater good. It is also helpful when requesting a short-term sacrifice in favor of long-term gains. For example, you might be calling them to take good care of their employees even when it affects the profit margin (sacrificing for the greater good). Or you might call them to cut back on immediate expenses to preserve resources for a future opportunity (sacrificing short-term ease for long-term gain). This approach provides the opportunity for the audience to be the hero when the sacrifice pays off.
Be Picky with Presentation Content
Your words are powerful, and your time is limited. The good news is that you have the opportunity to choose the very best approach because you don’t have time for second-place content pieces. Be picky! You might not have time for statistics, stories, and a sense of calling. You might need to focus on one or two instead of trying to do all three. These are tools in your toolbox. Think about the goal that leads to your hope. Consider the make-up of your audience. Then customize the message to highlight audience benefit. Consider your presentation content options. Use the ones that fit the job while knowing that other options will be used in other situations.
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One of my favorite books that use statistics to support a message is Factfulness by Hans Rosling.
What is your favorite?
Think about an upcoming presentation. What are your best options? Statistics? Stories? A sense of calling? A combination?