Your Audience – Give A Little Respect…

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 by Simon Morton

The more you think about it, the more obvious it is…yet too often, we see presenters forget this most basic of rules.  The audience is king/queen.

I was reminded of this recently when speaking at an event.  The agenda was a Who’s Who list of speakers who had a huge amount of knowledge and experience in their field (I know what you’re thinking – what was I was doing there?).  The audience was made up of senior people, all of whom had got up early or invested in a hotel to attend the event.  It was as friendly and enthusiastic crowd as you could have hoped for.

And then things started going awry…

The first speaker didn’t inspire confidence.  He seemed to bumble through his slides, reading most of the bullet points out and looking genuinely surprised at some of the animations that befell him.

The audience started to look uneasy.

The next presenter was great – got everyone back on track by sharing her enthusiasm for the topic and demonstrating it through stories, strong visuals and building a real connection with the audience.  The energy returned to the room.

Unfortunately the entire morning was like a rollercoaster – for every engaging and prepared presenter, there was the cliched “bumbler”.  Outside of issues around message, structure, content and visuals (I could go on), the latter group displayed one consistent trait – a lack of respect for their audience and the event.

As a presenter, every presentation represents an investment in you by the audience.  It’s the obvious stuff like time and attention but also something a more intimate – their willingness to connect with you and your story.

It’s a huge privilege…

Despite this investment on their behalf, we all too often see presenters pay scant regard for their audiences and simply “roll up” and deliver the same pre-canned, half-baked presentation that not only fails to interest the audience but also, from their tone and approach, bores them too.

When preparing your next presentation, please ensure the very first thing you consider is the audience – treat them with the utmost respect.

They are opening themselves and their minds up to your message.  They probably don’t need to and, chances are, they have a whole bunch of other interesting stuff to be getting on with…yet they chose to invest their time, energy and attention to you.

Forget this at your peril.

I’ve seen it happen…and it wasn’t pretty.

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