It’s 10 am in the Moscow household and Mrs M is stressed.
Tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and we have around 30 family members descending on us.
Like so many religious festivals, a feast lies at its heart and so coming up with a winning menu comes with a certain amount of pressure.
The Mother is in charge of the meal and she’s having a hard time working out what to make.
Making an incredible meal is not the problem. Fran is a brilliant cook and New Year is always a multi-course gastronomic epic, full of wonderful starters, soups, fish and meat dishes and an array of mouth-watering deserts.
Time is the issue.
Usually she’d have weeks to prepare and plenty of time leading up to the day to get everything in order. This year, however, she’s been super busy at work, which means that everything has been left to the last minute.
Enter her son stage left. He’d been thinking about what he’d really like for lunch. While he’s a lover of what you might call fine cuisine, He also like earnest, hearty food…a lot.
So he suggest that we cut down the number of courses and find a main dish that’s easy to make but something we know everyone will like.
We agree on fried fish from the local fish and chip shop and that we’ll dress it up with an assortment of salads.
Fran is a little dubious at first. She’s not sure if it’s going to be good enough. She’s worried about what people will think. She’s convinced they’ll expect something more adventurous.
However, time is of the essence and her options are few. So with a promise that we’ll all muck in to make it a wonderful meal, she agrees.
Best meal ever
The meal was a resounding success. In fact, it was possibly one of the most successful New Year’s lunches we’ve ever had.
It’s not that the food isn’t always great. It’s just that it’s not always to everyone’s tastes. Every year there are those who abstain from certain courses and those that only eat a small amount.
This time, everyone dug in because we gave them something they all loved to eat.
By the end of the meal the whole family was sitting around the table clutching their bellies.
Are your assumptions sabotaging the impact of your presentations?
Like Fran, it’s not unusual for us to feel we have to impress in order to win our audience over.
I’ve found it’s the fear of what people will think, if we don’t come up with something awesome that sabotages the power and impact of many presentations.
It’s also the reason why so many people steer clear of presenting altogether, even when they know it can be a very powerful way of attracting prospects.
The problem is our definition of awesome is usually very different from our audience’s. So instead of giving them what they really want, you push yourself to come up with something original or devilishly clever.
You then pack your presentations full of content because you believe that the more you give away, the more your currency increases with your audience.
However, as the eighteenth-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau warned, ‘this universal desire for reputation, in which we judge ourselves through other people’s eyes, is fraught with dangers.’
Here’s why it might be harming your presentations:
- When you try to offer original, you often fail because in reality there’s very little that’s truly unique in the world. The result, you end up stressing and giving yourself a hard time because you can’t come up with something you feel is worthy. Some might even give up on the presentation altogether.
- The problem with devilishly clever is that in many circumstances it leads to content that is over-complicated and beyond the needs and understanding of your audience. Rather than impressing them, you leave them confused or worse feeling stupid.
- Stuffing your presentation full of content is a problem because there’s only so much your audience can consume. Give them too much and they feel overwhelmed and retain nothing at all.
Don’t serve a gourmet meal: deliver something simple but tasty
More often than not, your audience is attending your presentation because they have a problem they want help to overcome.
They are not looking for devilishly clever or unique. They want straight-forward, easily digestible advice they can take back to their office and use immediately to generate results.
So give them what they want.
Your originality will come from the unique way you address their problem and in the process you outline for overcoming it. After all it’s your process and therefore distinctive to you. And like the salads we used to dress up the meal, your uniqueness will also come from your unique way of presenting the information.
Your devilishly clever will come from your ability to help your audience realise where they are going wrong, your skill at finding solutions that exactly meet their needs and the results you help them achieve.
Keep things simple and obvious. Some of the best presentations I’ve ever been to are the ones where I think to myself that is so simple and so obvious, why haven’t I thought of it before?
So what’s the sublimely simple secret to content creation?
As my old sales trainer used to say, when you assume you know what other people want you make an ass out of u and me…see what he did there???
If you want to know what content to present to your audience that will create the credibility and trust you need to attract them to your business…ASK THEM.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so.
Here are 5 you can try:
- Talk to clients who reflect your audience and find out what they are struggling with.
- Use social media platforms to find out where your audience hangs out and listen to the problems they’re sharing
- Speak to the organiser and get them to email the attendees of your talk with a questionnaire that helps identifies the areas they want covered
- Talk to attendees before you take to the stage
- Once you’re on stage before you start your presentation, ask your audience why they’ve come and what they hope to gain. Flip chart their responses and make sure you cover each one
Remember your talk should be flexible enough that you can tailor it to the specific needs of your audience at will.