Are the Qualities of an Influential Presenter?
This past week I attended three different sessions at an IT (Information Technology) Summit. Each of the presenters came from completely different backgrounds and positions and had completely different presentation styles and personalities. Yet all three had one quality in common.
I was so influenced by each of them, I left the Summit deeply concerned about security and lack of security - and I haven't been able to get those thoughts and fears out of my mind since. All three were powerful, influential presenters.
When we are asked to give a presentation - a keynote, a workshop, a sales presentation, or lead a meeting - one of our primary goals is to influence our listeners in some way. What are the tools, methods, attributes and attitudes that will help us to become powerful, influential presenters? Read on.
Have passion for your topic and goal if you hope to influence. I have talked about having a passion for your topic before, but I feel it can't be said enough. If we don't care about our topics, how can we ever expect to influence others? Even though the Summit I attended was intended for technology types, the presenter who was the most passionate and frightened me the most wasn't a "techie" at all. He was a writer and speaker about airline security. He started by pointing out that security strategy isn't any different from computer technology security. By showing the similarities of approaches and the need to think backward, "with the mind of a terrorist," he showed clearly that "security is security" and the more secure we think we are by creating additional layers of security, we aren't becoming safer. Before you accept a presentation assignment, be truthful about your passion or lack of passion for the topic or the product. You may be able to entertain the listeners, but without passion, you will never be able to influence them.
Being a knowledgeable expert gives credibility and creates interest and influence. It was obvious to me at the Summit sessions I attended that each of the presenters had, "been there, done that." I wonder if you have ever experienced a presenter who is obviously speaking about a subject that he or she has possibly read a few books about, but has never lived. An example is someone telling us how to start our own small business, yet has never started a successful business. The example often cited a young, recent graduate speaking to a crowd of CEOs about leadership. In the session that concerned SPAM, which, along with the inconvenience, comes with inherent viruses and the illegal use of stolen e-mails was presented by a lawyer who brought us up to speed on the legal ramifications and what is being discussed from a legal standpoint.
He certainly had both the passion and knowledge to influence us. In the session on "How Hackers Break in through Internet Applications," the presenter had the expertise to explain the why, the what, the where, and the how of retrieving dynamic information - in other words, our user names and passwords, our credit card information and even how to change and use our name in an on-line banking account. He obviously knew what he was talking about, not that he is a despicable hacker, but someone who has followed the steps and the thinking that goes behind these break ins. He made it look so sensible and straight-forward, it was scary and again has influenced me to check out the websites where I do interactive buying, selling and banking. How? You ask. Well, that takes us right into the next topic.
Make use of dynamic examples for influence.
You see, your examples don't have to be complex. They just need to be dramatic.
Be clear about your goal and the action and/or reaction you expect from listeners. Before planning and preparing your presentation - and, by now you know how important this part is - write down how you want to influence those attending. What action steps, thoughts, fears and/or lessons do you expect them to leave with, remember and be influenced by? I guarantee that this will be the exciting and powerful part of your presentation, as long as you:
Go for it and do let me know how it works for you. I love getting your FEEDBACK!
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