Why Your Audience Wants Bad Things to Have Happened to Their Presenter

Today’s audiences are a jaded bunch. In fact, a Gallup Poll shows that just 16% of us have a favorable opinion of business executives. With all of the Wall Street failures and auto maker bailouts that are currently going on, this number will probably keep going down. What’s a presenter to do in order to cut through the fog of cynicism that we are all existing in?

One way that presenters are doing this is by sharing their own stories of adversity. These stories seem to be able to reach out to audiences and somehow make the presenter much more “real” than just another glib business success story.

If this is what your audience wants, what can you do to meet their needs? We all may not have survived a wild bear attack, but we may be able to find other types of material in our lives that will allow us to connect with our audiences:

  • Audiences Love Adversity: The bigger the challenge that you faced, the more they love it. Erik Weihenmayer is a mountain climber who is blind. He over came lots of adversity and ended up climbing Mt. Everest. His story shows his audience how to overcome adversity in their lives.  
  • Tales Of Survival Match Today’s Business Environment: Today’s business environment is harsh and unforgiving and surviving is what most of your audience is trying do every day. Trisha Meili was assaulted and left for dead in New York’s Central Park. She now speaks to audiences about what she had to go through in order to recover.  
  • Find The Metaphor: What your audience is really looking for is hope. They will be interested in your story no matter what you tell them, but it will have a real impact if they can understand that what you went through is similar to what they are currently going through. The fact that you survived (and hopefully thrived) is what is going to give them the courage to keep on trying.  
  • Tie Your Story Into Business: A great story will keep your audience on the edge of their seats – but what happens when you stop talking? John Amatt survived a mountain climb 20 years ago that killed three of his climbing teammates. The only way that he survived that disaster and made it to the top of the mountain was to  make radical changes to his climbing route and tactics. This story is very well received by business people who are facing major changes in their business environments.
  • Use Humor Where Appropriate: These topics can be pretty heavy – life and death struggles are rarely something that anyone wants to joke about. That being said, if your entire presentation is dark and scary, then your audience will just be happy when it’s all over. Instead, use humor at the start and at the end in order to start and end on a lighter note. You audience will appreciate it and this will allow your message to sink in further.

We have not all faced life threatening situations. However, what your audience is really looking for is a good story that they can relate to. If you look back over your life, I’m sure that you can find points in which you were faced with a challenging situation that looked impossible at the time. Then all you have to do is weave a story that will grab your audience’s attention…

Learn to Be Funny – Jokes to Open a Presentation

An easy and simple way to immediately add humor to your presentation is to include it in your introduction. This way you can potentially have your audience laughing even before you set foot on stage, this is not a bad thing. Now, when I say you can use jokes to open a presentation you do not necessarily have to use a street joke.

If you are not clear on the term, a street joke is a joke you get told by a friend or work colleague in a social situation. Such as the “man walks into a bar…” type jokes. More often than not these do not have an authorship.

But you do not have to use those. You can simply create your own presentation introduction jokes, but harnessing your own sense of humor. Can you think of something humorous, and relevant to your presentation which the person introducing you can read out? Quick tip; if you do make sure it is appropriate for the environment you are speaking in.

Is there a way that you can find a witty quote, or inside joke that connects well with your presentation as well as with your audience?

You can use street jokes, but I would provide two warnings if you do so. The first is if you use a street joke I would edit it so that it was in my words and I would personalise it. Secondly, be very careful if you find a street joke online or in a book. There is a very high chance that someone else may be using the same joke. If they are on the same bill as you it could be dangerous. Or if you are the only speaker, you might have someone coming up to you afterwards and telling you that they had heard the joke before.

Also, many presenters waste valuable audience connection time by having their introduction packed with biographical information. You know the type, “our next speaker as an MBA, BBC and NBC…” who cares?

Remember that your audience is always going to be thinking: “what is in it for me?” So why not tell them right off the bat? Inform your audience exactly what they will get out of listening to you. What is their take away? Will they learn a specific set of tools? Are you giving them an action plan?

By telling them what they can expect to get out of your presentation before you even begin, you can help grab their interest before you even walk out in front of them. So not only are you connecting with your audience through the power of laughter by using jokes to open a presentation, but you are also relaying the benefits they will get.

The next step is using jokes to open a presentation once you are on the speaking platform. Again, you want to make it relevant to your content. You could also find a way to make it relevant to something that is immediately noticeable, like the backdrop. Be careful with this one though, mocking the backdrop or something else that you share the platform with, might seem as though you are biting the hand that feeds you.

You can also open and immediately connect with your audience by referring back to something that got a laugh by a previous speaker. Find a way to slightly re-phrase that person’s comment. Your audience will love you for it because it shows that you are in the moment, you are paying attention and your presentation is alive and fresh just for them.

Do not spend too long being funny in your opening though, remember you have to carry on and deliver your overall message. Unless of course, your whole speech is humorous then that is a whole other ballgame as you will want to continue being humorous.

Remember, if you say that you are going to provide them with definite take-ways, actually provide them with those take-aways. Do not fail to deliver on your promise. Always strive to over-deliver on your promise.

Negotiating: Collaboration A Win-Win Strategy

COLLABORATIVE NEGOTIATING:

Collaborative negotiating is a win-win strategy that can focus the resources of the people involved in the process towards strengthening results, productivity, quality, creativity, and innovation in problem-solving. To use the collaborative approach to negotiating you will have to agree on the aim of negotiations. Before any sort of bargaining can begin, you and your counterpart must define the who-what-where-when-how-and-why of the issue and have a general idea of the objectives and dimensions of a solution.

WHEN USING NEGOTIATING COLLABORATIVELY:

1) Acknowledge the other person’s position. Negotiating doesn’t require that the two of you hold similar positions of authority. It doesn’t require that you like each other. But it does require that you be prepared to treat the other person as an adult, be ready to listen as well as talk, and to recognize that your view is not necessarily the only one. 2) Gain the other person’s trust. No matter how logical and factual you are, the other party will doubt your credibility. Good faith commences with symbolic acts like eye contact, shaking hands, pulling out a chair for someone, and it is maintained by consistent honesty. If you want others to level with you, level with them. Although you may feel that an occasional bluff could help your position, don’t gamble. The consequences can be disastrous if your hand is called.

1) Identify areas of mutual interest and agreement. Before two people can resolve differences, they must find a common ground where meaningful negotiations can begin. 2) Set a positive accepting tone. The tone of negotiations must be positive. This applies both to what is discussed and how it is discussed. If you have to say something negative, phrase it in a positive way or preface it with a positive statement. Phrase words so that they elicit a positive response to advance your position rather than stop the negotiation. This helps to prevent defensive reactions and promotes affirmative thinking.

1) Be aware of what you are saying and doing. People sometimes become so intent on watching, listening, or speaking to others that they fail to watch themselves. Words, body language, tone of voice, and voice inflection have many ambiguous meanings. Humor is especially troublesome — it can be interpreted as flippant or sarcastic. Only through self-observation can you be certain that you are conveying the message you want in the manner you want. 2) Maintain a question and answer exchange. The heart of any negotiation is the ongoing dialogue during which negotiators discover each other’s feelings, understandings, attitudes, prejudices, and objective views of the situation. It enables you to acquire the proper perspectives, separate actual from fancied needs, isolate the real obstacles, and identify what approach to use in obtaining agreement. Ask specific, open-ended questions, and probe areas of conflict to uncover as much information as possible. Your own answers and statements must be equally candid.