Imagine you’re about to walk on stage. Your heart is beating faster. The first line of your presentation is running through your head.
Your focus turns inward. Suddenly, even after all your preparation, the presentation becomes all about you and your performance – and you know without a doubt that you have become your own worst enemy. Right?
Wrong. It’s not about getting your butterflies to fly in formation, it’s how to write a presentation that defeats the 3 main threats to fascinating your audience.
Sally Hogshead in her book “How the World Sees You” writes that there are 3 threats to capturing people’s attention (and this is why you've only got 9 seconds to fascinate). Those threats are distraction, competition, and commoditization.
1. Distraction: Is your presentation connecting or missing the mark?
Sally cites a study from IBM that says you've only got 9 seconds to fascinate your audience. How are you using those 9 precious seconds?
When your audience enters a room their thoughts, feeling, and never ending to-do lists fill their minds. Your speech is an interruption in their day. If you fail to captivate immediately or “front load your value,” then you lose the war to distractions.
The first words out of your mouth must instantly engage your audience. Make them want to know more about your topic, more about you, and more about your uniquely added value.
The first step in defeating distraction is understanding how you fascinate. If you know your fascination type, share it with me in the comments. If you don’t know, take a minute to head over to How to Fascinate and find out what advantages your personality has in the fascination game.
2. Competition: Is your presentation forgettable?
There are a lot of speakers in the world. The market is saturated. You need to take a brutal look at your presentation and ask yourself “Am I in a category of one?”
I recently talked to a speaker who was failing to get traction. He told me that his content was great, and he didn’t know what he was doing wrong.
I watched his video. I witnessed stories that I've heard a million times (will the damn Starfish story die, already? If you don’t know that story, be grateful), studies that were cited by nearly all speakers in his category, and the same examples that everyone else was using.
The speech was unmemorable. There was nothing in there that I hadn't heard a 1000 times before from speakers who were much more famous than him.
There was nothing daring in his speech. There was nothing unique in his speech. Frankly, any speaker in his category, could have given his speech.
When you don’t stand out, offer unique viewpoints, challenges the status quo, you SINK in the sea of sameness. Your goal as a speaker is to be a category of ONE.
3. Commoditization: Are you easily replaceable?
The side effect of blending in, not offering a view point, and delivering the same old song and dance as everyone else is that you find that you are REPLACEABLE!
You've made yourself a commodity like milk. It doesn't matter what brand of milk you buy, milk is milk. The dairy industry realizes that it competes on price and that consumers will always buy the lowest price version.
You deserve to be better than generic milk!
If you and Esmeralda both speak on leadership, talk about the same content, and she charges $1000 less than you do, Esmeralda (that witch) is going to get the gig and you’re not.
You need to make an audacious breakthrough and figure out how to position yourself in the marketplace, so that what you deliver is so different, so intriguing, and so valuable, that the lowest price replacement – just won’t do. They want ONLY YOU!
You’re not your own worst enemy when it comes to presentations – distraction, competition, and commoditization are.
Your first steps to combat those threats are clear. Do this:
- Know how you fascinate. Take the assessment if you've haven’t already and start using your natural advantages in your presentations.
- Ruthlessly audit your presentations – if someone else could give it, you need to challenge yourself to creating one that uniquely expresses your viewpoint.