Always make it worth your audience’s time

I gave a “TedX” style presentation entitled “Presenting to Investors” at an Australiasian Investor Relations Association (AIRA) conference last week.  I was the fourth, and last, speaker of the group and the only one who didn’t do a 15 minute advertisement for my company or product.

Surprisingly, some of the speakers were not as effective as they could have been, because:

  1. They read their speech.  I believe at this level you either need to do more practice, get some training, or give the session to someone else in the company who can deliver a presentation as naturally as a conversation.  Who can remember anything when the presenter reads their entire speech?
  2. The slides didn’t work for them.  I am still amazed that some organisations don’t take advantage of a professionally designed presentation.  I know some of these people paid a lot of money for the opportunity to present at this conference and they turned up with a presentation that looked like a school project.  In an age of multimedia, how can anyone turn up at a professional conference with anything other than a professional presentation and try to convince buyers that the product they offer is a good one?  As a result, at the end of the presentations, I suspect few people actually understood what they were proposing, nor the value proposition.
  3. It was all about them.  If you’ve ever seen a TedX presentation (and lets face it, you shouldn’t be giving one if you haven’t watched some) you would know that it’s not a sales pitch…it’s about sharing experiences and educating the audience. To simply promote their own product and give little value to the audience for their time is never a good idea.

This brings me to the point of this blog: ALWAYS give your audience value for their time.

Even if you are doing a sales presentation (as opposed to a TedX) you should include material that educates you audience, whether that be about the industry, the key aspects of your product group or any one of a number of factors relevant to your audience.  Under any circumstance, it is a privilege to be able to present, a privilege that must be valued and respected. To not deliver value for the audience’s time (and that is value from their perspective, not yours) is disrespectful.

If you do create your presentation that delivers value, these things happen:

  1. The audience will feel it gained something from the time spent.  They will be more disposed to listen to you again next time if they received value for their time.
  2. You’re more likely to be seen as a thought leader. When you’re seen as such, people will be more likely to refer you to others, or come to you themselves.
  3. You wont be seen as a selfish presenter.

Does it make a difference?  In the panel session that immediately followed, 2 of the 4 panelists specifically referred to me and my content in a positive context.  (One even called me a great presenter…how nice!).

I firmly believe that the best way to sell yourself and your services is by delivering value to your audience. Respect the generosity of their time rather than focusing on yourself.

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