Are you a Smart car person? F-350 monster truck? High octane sports car? Or an SUV soccer van?
Although most of us know how to drive, we’re not equally comfortable in all vehicles. Even if the extreme compactness of the Smart car makes you anxious it can still get you from A to B. In other words, you can meet your basic travel requirements, but you won’t necessarily enjoy your trip.
It is similar to when you organize content for presenting to a particular audience. You have to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there; you have to know who is coming along and what helps them enjoy the ride.
In my work coaching clients’ presentation skills, far too often I find race car drivers chained to a tractor, or nervous, inexperienced drivers strapped into a performance sports car. Often, the vehicle has been chosen by someone else or, believing the vehicle matters more than the driver, the presenter has been overly ambitious, or needlessly cautious.
Any presentation is a symbiotic soup of content and performance. A great performer can only do so much with lame content and a weak performer will not have the chops to navigate an intricately woven audience experience. When organizing your content for an audience, at a minimum you must be clear on your objectives; what is your audience’s needs and desires? What are their characteristics? How can you contribute to what they’re looking for?
When you look at how to structure your carefully selected content, think about your strengths and choose according to them. If you’re not funny, don’t go for laughs. If you get confused by numbers and detailed information, stay at the forest level not the tree line.
The difference between an acceptable presentation and an outstanding one is your choice in vehicle. Ask yourself, “Am I doing my best? Am I enjoying this?” If you’re having fun, so will your audience.
There are as many ways of combining information as there are people on the planet, and every one of them has a story that someone else wants to hear.
So choose your vehicle and enjoy the ride!
Joanna Piros will be leading OsgoodePD’s Communicating to Persuade: Skills for Legal Professionals and You Said What?! Media Relations for Legal Professionals, December 8, 2016.
JOANNA PIROS has over 25 years’ experience in the media as a reporter, television news anchor, writer and producer. Joanna has helped a wide variety of clients create communications strategies, create events, and become better communicators with external audiences, internal audiences, and media. Joanna is also an instructor with the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business and sits on the Board of Directors for the prestigious Jack Webster Journalism Awards.