1. Research the audience. No presentation can be successful without background research. The best presenters understand their audiences—what their concerns are and what language they speak. The best presenters also understand why they were invited to address the audience. Presenting to customers, for instance, requires a very different approach than speaking to an industry-association audience of peers.
2. Deliver the engaging and the unexpected. The planning process for every presentation includes considering how to engage the audience. The best speakers make their presentations thought-provoking, inspiring, even memorable.
Tools are great ways to engage and surprise an audience: a video that helps make a point, a question that encourages the audience to contemplate an answer, a prop that helps illustrate a concept.
The important decision is determining which medium is best to deliver the message and which suits the speaker's personal style. Some people can tell a story using only brief notes. Others work best with presentation slides—which should always be easy to read and understand—fewer words and simple visuals are good rules to live by.
|Photo of Dave Olson by Kris Krug @KK|
Good storytellers generally make the best speakers because they understand how to build the story, how to intrigue the audience, and how to deliver the payoff.
|Dave Olson @SXSW by Kris Krug @KK|
The next week I did a different presentation on new computer technology. Needless to say, the same video would not have worked with that audience largely made up of radiologists LOL.