Don't you hate it when a speaker gets up and waxes on poetically about themselves for the first 5 minutes of a presentation? It's all Me, Me, Me. You're yawn, yawn, yawning.
Why is that? What makes you fall into a stupor of boredom when a speaker focuses on himself first?
YOU – you are missing.
This is why YOU is the most important word in any presentation.
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Minimize I & Maximize You
As a speaker, you are the conduit of information that will inform, persuade, inspire or entertain your audience. Yep, you are just a conduit in a presentation. When the focus is on the I – this how I work with my clients or I do this or I do that – you've just made yourself the most important person in the room. Maximize you – minimize I.
This goes for bloggers too – do you find your self clicking away from an article because there are more “I”s in the first paragraph? I do. I don't care about the I – I care about seeing myself in your content.
Speak to one
When you focus on the “you,” you focus on the audience. Whether you are speaking to five people or 505 people, those are the most important people in the room.
The brilliant, Craig Valentine, often says that in public speaking you should speak to one in order to capture the minds of many. He has the hallway test. Imagine walking past a friend in a hallway and saying “How many of you have been to Bora Bora?” Your friend would at you like you lost your ever-lovin' mind. You'd never say that to one person. You'd say “Have you been to Bora Bora?”
If you can't say something in your presentation to just one person, then chuck it, revise it or rewrite it. The focus needs to be on the you in your audience.
You increases engagement
Using you – increases the audience's engagement in your speech. I'm curently working on a speech encouraging people to embrace emotions when grieving. (Yeah that sounds happy, doesn't it?) Let's look at two different ways I could phrase a line from my speech.
Everyone has difficult times during their life.
Have you ever hit a rough patch in your life?
Which made you think more? The second one, right? It immediately makes you think of a time that was hard for you. It puts you into the speech. Even though I am going to talk about a personal story – you are going to relate it to your life.
YOU is the most important word in presentations
Always be inviting your audience into your speech. Ask them questions. Make them feel like you are only talking to them. Let them experience a story you are telling through their own life. Increased engagement leads to more successful presentations and happier audiences.
What say you? How do you invite your audience into your speech?