How Business Speakers Can Engage Their Audience

President of Global Teamswork and author of The One Minute Presenter Warwick John Fahy connected, engaged and inspired a gathering of BritCham members eager to improve their business presentation and communication skills during a workshop host at the HSBC office in the Shanghai ifc on 27 June. Focusing on the principles of "connect, engage, inspire," Fahy's interactive presentation drew members in with participatory exercises designed to help them "get to the point," a major difficulty that business or technically minded people often have because, as Fahy states, "they simply know too much."

Connect

Find out what the point is that your audience wants to hear, and then get to it.

When dealing with diverse audiences, this is important. According to Warwick, people often start a presentation with completely the wrong information - the company background, references, statistics and so forth. In reality, most of us want to know what this company is doing or could do for us, and only then the supporting details.

Be versatile, be adaptable.

No matter how much of an expert you are, the likelihood is that the collective knowledge and experience in the room of people you're presenting to is far greater than your own, states Fahy. Therefore, you may have to adapt your presentation style to suit - sometimes the moderator, sometimes the (passionately) lecturing speaker.

Engage

Most people forget to interact.

According to Fahy, when asked to do a 40-minute presentation, most presenters often design 40 minutes worth of content, resulting in a solid 40 minutes of talking at the audience. This precludes the possibility of having the audience interact with the content. Fahy suggests a good target is 18 minutes worth of content (an approach used very successfully by TED Talks, with the remaining time devoted to expanding on that content through interaction. How? One example is what Fahy calls "intelligent interruptions." Once you've made a point or covered a topic that someone must have a question or comment about, pause and seek out the comment.

Inspire

Speaker know thyself.

Start building your presentation by first asking yourself "Why?". Why are you doing this presentation? Why should others be interested in it? Why do they want to hear you speak about? Be sure you know what your expertise is, what you are about and what your personal vision is so that you can communicate this well. If you understand your audience and successfully connect with and engage them, the inspiration part becomes a lot easier.

The Number The Point
<10% The average recall 24 hours after a typical presentation.
16 The optimal number of words in which to convey a personal introduction or to summarise the message of your presentation.
8 The optimal number of words for a bullet point in a presentation, a summary speaking point or goal.
4 Your life motto in four short words - get to the point!