Do you make this presentation mistake too?

More than ten years ago I started to speak professionally. Much to my surprise, I quickly found that more or less identical speeches can be received very differently by different audiences.  After doing some research, I stumbled upon the reason why: Based on their personal learning style, every audience member will have one of four questions floating in their minds. For example, if you’re discussing the role of visualization in goal setting, the following four questions must be answered:

How is this information relevant to me? This philosopher’s learning style covers 35 percent of your listeners in a typical audience. You can reach the philosophers by quickly connecting to the “what’s in it for me?” question. For example, if you understand the power of visualization, you’ll achieve your goals much easier.

What is the principle behind this idea? This scientist’s learning style covers 20 percent of your listeners. You can reach the scientist types by explaining the process and methodology behind the new idea. Use logic to make your point. For example, you could explain that visualization is effective, because it triggers the subconscious mind to become aware of people, ideas, and circumstances that can help you achieve your goal.

What steps are required for this idea? This engineer’s learning style includes 20 percent of your listeners. You can reach the engineers by communicating a recipe with practical steps to apply the idea. Providing a checklist is very effective. For example, you could explain the sequential steps to effectively using visualization.

How can I use this idea to improve my life? This entrepreneur’s learning style includes 25 percent of the listeners. You can reach the entrepreneurs by applying the new idea to solve an actual problem. For example, an audience exercise using visualization to find creative ways to increase revenue in a business would be great for appealing to this audience. 

The big secret of an excellent speech is to cover all four questions —usually in this order—and thus to really engage an entire audience with your ideas.

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/Mihajlo Maricic

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