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This page summarizes a number of discussions and observations in connection with targeted presentation and persuasive behavior in a global community. A structured approach, such as the Minto Pyramid Principle, groups ideas in logical order toward the proposed action. Often, it is not as much what we say, but rather how we say it. Non-verbal signals such as look and tone of voice can support a message as much as they may distract from the spoken word.
From Powerpoint-Karaoke to Meaningful Interaction
Top-Notch Performance. We all would like to be top, don't we? We want to be loved, praised, and pointed out as an example, preferably for something that was well done. There are usually two ways to share information: We could build up tension "bottom up," use logical argumentation and step by step approach the point we want to make. Or we may just go "top down" and come straght to the point, pushing at the door "like a bull at the gate – mit der Tür ins Haus fallen," which is preferable in circumstances of limited time, impatience, or low attention.
Structure Is Guidance. A clear structure will guide the audience through a train of thought and invite it to paint a picture of the future together. The pace of a presentation should allow the audience to digest the vast amount of new information. A positive greet up front can form an excellent starting point for successful delivery. Asking a disturbing question may state the gravity of a situation and reinforce the need for change. Visual aids that catch the eye together with "fun" elements increase memorability. And don't forget: Good presentations tell a story.
Final inspection of the meeting venue in anticipation of the speech. Most of all, meaningful interactions are not about being a genius, but rather the result of thorough preparation.
Back in the auditorium awaiting the start of a most interesting business management congress.
Preparation is King. Analyzing the composition of the audience allows for tailoring messages towards its receptivity. Different audience expectations want to be addressed differently. Enriching the message by using metaphors can help others to better relate to the message. As does effective visual contrasting of past and future behavior, preparing strong benefits, and explicitly stating dangers of non-reaction. An executive summary can help with making key statements more memorable. As so often, preparation is key to successful delivery as it reduces anxiety. This includes practicing a convincing tone of voice, preparing eye catchers in presentation, visualizing the layout of the presentation site, and dry running both speech and aligned body language.
Winning of Mind & Heart. Openly stating downsides a proposal next to its benefits helps the audience to grasp a clear picture of the entire situation. In the end, a combination of trust and expertise will gain the credibility. Aspects of nonverbal communication should reinforce the spoken part of the message. This is where body language comes into play, such as assuming an open posture by moving closer and revealing unclenched hands. Optical stimuli play a major role. As we may be saying one thing, our look should not say another. Individual credibility is of utmost importance, which wins over the heart and thereby does convince people. A final call to action clearly states expectations from the audience, as it reiterates and thereby clarifies the wants.
Powerpoint-Karaoke. We live in times of Powerpoint-karaoke. More and more slide decks are thrown at us, some are more, others are less appealing. Many presenters try to impress with complex content rather than using nice, lean slides as visual prompts that allow the audience to focus on the speaker. Too often, presenters just read text off the slide instead of using a more professional "Touch-Turn-Talk" presentation technique. The job to understand the whole thing is given to the audience. "So, what's your point?" is a frequent response from tired listeners.
Struggle with the Why. Relevant content addresses the audience's burning question: "What's in it for me?" Active involvement of listeners elevates them from passive recipients of a sales pitch to participants in meaningful dialogue. This includes an acknowledgement of other opinions. Paraphrasing of critical questions helps dealing with open criticism, as restating means sharing the emotion. A number of barriers can prevent one from reaching an audience. These can include different behaviors in decision making and communication. Additionally, there may be language and culture barriers to overcome.
Tech Talk. But not all language barriers come from speaking a different mother tongue. Various sciences maintain different communication styles and use specific expressions. What helps is the introduction of analogies, supported by pictures. At times, we'd compare process documentation with the creation of the blueprint of a car. We'd then speak of adjustment to local statutory requirements in reference to the steering wheel, being on the "right" side in some countries, and of a project go-live as "rubber hitting the road." Finally, even critics would take over the same speak and argue "You are trying to sell us a car with three wheels," when things were not as expected.
On the next page about a Change Journey.
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