3 Presentation Essentials to Help Understand the Audience Perspective

Posted by Steve Flynn on 4/22/15 11:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from our partner, Joanne Flynn, Founder of Phoenix Strategic Performance.

What makes a great presentation great?  Great presentations don’t ‘just happen’.  Yes, there is theory behind the presentation process.  Great presentations are carefully crafted on many levels to make sure the presenter captures and keeps the audience’s attention.  After all, isn’t that why we make presentations in the first place?  There are three critically integrated parts to a great presentation that will make it high impact, memorable and game changing. Before you even begin to create your presentation, you must consider all the underlying components together with your intent for the presentation.  To meet all three requirements, you must absolutely understand how the audience processes the presentation. 

Things That Can Go Wrong and Often Do: Our Top Ten List
(To name only a few)

  1. The presenter is monotone
  2. The presenter looks wooden or frozen – there is no positive body language
  3. The presenter looks and sounds nervous
  4. The graphics are too busy or too boring
  5. The graphics don’t match what the person is saying
  6. The graphics are not referred to and the presenter is talking about something else.   
  7. The presenter goes off point – where is this presentation going?
  8. The presenter is reading sentences and paragraphs off the graphic – and the font size is so small the audience can’t follow
  9. The presenter is pacing all around
  10. Two presenters are on stage and talking to each other – not the audience


Three Presentation Essentials
The Power of the Non-Verbal Aspect of the Presentation

  1. Harnessing the Power of Body Energy / Language

The audience sees the presenter and the presenter’s body language and energy.  That’s reality.  Body energy / language is reflected in both your body and your vocals.  As a presenter, you are a sight and sound show. That visual image creates the initial impression of, “do I want to listen to this person and do I believe what the presenter is saying”?

  1. Beware of Message Dissonance

If there is any disconnect between the visual presenter’s body and vocal energy message and the verbal information being delivered, the audience will experience ‘message dissonance’. ‘Message dissonance’ is the confusion experienced between what I see versus what I hear.  This is NOT an image you, as the presenter, ever what to impart. Why?  Because we know that our senses will more often believe what they see before they believe what they hear. Therefore, you must plan to ensure that both your body and vocal energy and your verbal message are in synch.  This requires careful verbal message preparation and rigorous practice to ensure your physical skills are integrated with and reinforce your verbal message.  When these two messages are out of synch – your presentation is in trouble.   Always consider the power and pull of the non-verbal component of the presentation. 

  1. The audience has choices and can easily choose to ‘check out’.
How do you get and keep the audience’s attention?  Always remember that, during the presentation, the audience is having a sensory experience. It is sensing the following three messages:

  • Your verbal message – what you are saying
  • Your physical body and vocal energy message – how are you saying it
  • Your graphic message – your billboard

All three messages must work together or your presentation message breaks down.  We know that the audience will decide very quickly if your message is one they want to devote their mental energy to, or not.  Today, this is extremely important – especially when the audience has so many other things they can be doing, and numerous devices they can use that won’t let the presenter know that the audience has already checked out.  Haven’t we all shown up for a presentation with a list of things we can do if the presentation is bad? I know I have!

Understanding the basic essentials of presentations is the first step to creating great presentations.  If you would like to learn more about how to make your presentation more effective, powerful and engaging, please join us in Phoenix on June 9th and 10th for our 2-day seminar: 3 P's of Powerful Presentations: Professional, Promotion & Profit.

Tags: Presentation Skills