Be a Little “Bossy” In Your Presentation

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Don’t want to be too bossy in your presentations? Think again.
When you give a presentation, it’s important to tell your audience what you’d like them to do…and why they should do it.
Two reasons:
From your point of view:
You have an agenda…a reason for giving the presentation. Typically you want something of them. You need them to know what that is, and you’d be best served to give them an incentive to do it.
From the audience’s point of view:
People would rather know what’s expected of them than have to guess, and they’d rather have a good reason to do it than to have to do it arbitrarily.
When I coach people to write presentations, I usually suggest they give the audience a general idea of what to do right at the top. I call that the General Action. It’s what you would like them to do while you give the presentation. Listen, think about how this applies to your work, learn about the new protocol, etc.
Then, later, when you have given them the main message and supported it with relevant stories, examples, data, etc., you let them know specifically what you would like them to do going forward, when they leave the presentation. I call that the Specific Action. In a sales presentation it might be called the “call to action.”
I say that the Specific Action should be measurable (you can tell if they did it or not,) time-bound (give them a specific time frame,) and realistic for the people you are asking to do it (they need to have the authority or the ability to perform the action.) As the name implies, be specific. Let them know what you expect of them. “Use the outline I just showed you when creating your next presentation.”
In order to increase the likelihood that they will do it, you will want to tell them what’s in it for them. I suggest finding three personal benefits they can enjoy if they take the action your request. They may be positive things, such as increased income, more time off or an easier time performing some work function; or a reduction in negative things such as less stress, or decreased chance of being laid off. Above all, make the benefits something that matter to the audience. “The company will make a higher profit” will not matter much to people who will not see any of it, unless of course your let them know that will increase their job security.
In terms of the audience, knowing what you are asking of them justifies their sitting through your presentation. Even if they find the action you are requesting annoying or difficult, they will feel a lot better about doing it if they know it benefits them in some way.
From your perspective and from the audience’s, telling them what to do and why to do it makes the presentation worthwhile.
Until the next time,
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