Storytelling Course Lesson 2: The Biggest Mistake Presenters Make

My first qualifying question to people that just got around to thinking about their presentation: What do you want to get from the presentation?

Usually, they know the answer to this. It’s to close a sale, raise funding, get their distributors to have resolved faith in them etc.

The follow-up question that that usually stumps clients we work with is: “Do you know what your audiences want?”

We always encourage presenters to start from their company’s objectives to ensure that the presentation is a practical one. What we must not forget is that more often than not, the people you’re presenting to hold the key to your objective.

These people care very little about what you or your company want. They’d much rather be scrolling through their news feeds on Facebook than listen to a presenter that does not attempt to understand them.

All of us will make this mistake now and again, but it’s one that’s avoidable with negligible effort.

The solution is simple: Consider your audience

What do they already know? What do they need to know? Who are the ones that make the decisions?

A simple exercise we do with all our clients is defining the ‘Current State’ and the ‘Desired State’.

In this context, the ‘Desired State’ is where you want your audience to be as per company objectives, you want them to buy your product, give a nod to your proposal, tell their friends how awesome your brand is. As mentioned, most people have this in the bag, albeit defined very abstractly.

Their ‘Current State’ is where presenters fumble. To put yourself in the shoes of the audience to tackle their current beliefs, values and fears is no easy task.

As Stephen R Covey, author of the 7 Habits famously wrote: ‘Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.’

Understanding where they are currently, you can better construct stories and arguments to allay their concerns and convince them to see things your way.