Love triangles happen to everyone at some point, in high school for sure. John pines for Madison who has a crush on Jared. Jean Paul Sartre brilliantly presented the love triangle as eternal damnation in his 1944 play, No Exit. (That is where the expression “Hell is other people” derived.) In contrast, the triangle of audience love actually helps you connect to your audience and them to your topic; nobody goes to hell in this model … at least so far.
The fact is, the more you relate yourself personally to your topic, the closer your audience will feel to you. That’s right. If you can connect yourself to your topic of the project debriefing or that sexy new org chart, your audience engages with both you and your message.
To do that, you want to nail two things by making them explicitly clear from the beginning:
1. Why you care about the topic.
2. Why your audience should care.
Let’s pretend you’re teaching a cooking class. People who love to cook are in your audience, but within that “love to cook” category, there are more specific attractor factors to cooking. Some are more interested in nutrition, some in easy meal preparation, some in entertaining, and some in showing off.
When you share with your audience what attracts you to your topic, you invisibly reach out to the people in your audience who share the same value for what you’re talking about. But the others still appreciate that you love cooking so much, even if they have a different reason to enjoy it.
Now I think what could be going on in your mind now is that you wish the topics you have to present about were as interesting as a cooking class. Therein lies the reason so many managers and executives give such
pathetic boring presentations: it’s hard to connect personally to technical challenges/details, faithless new initiatives or new regulations.
Consider these “why I care” possibilities:
- Keeps us out of jail
- Cash flow
- Environmental goodness
- Patient safety/care
- We’re a high-performance team
- You must do this to keep your job
- This could be an amazing opportunity for all of us
It also happens that you’re asked to present and you really don’t know the back story. You can still tie in one of these topic-speaker-audience connectors.
Present this love triangle at the very beginning. That practice alone reduces the iPhone prayers for sure.
And even if that factor that motivates you to on your project doesn’t motivate everyone in the audience, your connection to the topic draws them in. People are constantly evaluating whether new information is pertinent to them, if you show connection to the topic, you’re got a great chance to bring in (engage) your audience.
It’s not about sharing information (which is important but not sufficient) but getting people to care. They will more likely care if you explicitly tell them a good reason for doing so.
Start your presentation by telling your audience what you like about the topic or why you care. Your audience will go wild and some may actually faint in shock that you really give a damn and are not simply going through the motions. They will not even notice if you’re nervous. Bravo!