Unlocking The Minds Of Your Audience

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Public Speaking on April 2, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Speaking Tip # 66


Chances are, we’ve all tried to use a key that is rusted, dirty, and nicked. Yes, the key might open the lock, but it takes more effort and frustration.

Content is the key to a good presentation, but if key is not well polished, the presentation won’t measure up to expectations.

A good presentation is easy to follow and fun to hear. The audience is intrigued and inspired, and the room is filled with energy. This happens when the speaker’s goal is to allow the audience to focus on the meaning of the words, rather than exert effort trying to figure out what they mean. The more distractions (rust, dirt, nicks) the speaker can remove, the easier it is for the key to unlock the minds of the audience.

Common types of speaker rust, dirt, and nicks include:

·     Irrelevant information or relevant information delivered at the wrong time. As a speaker, it’s easier to determine what to say than to know what not to say. Some speakers assume they are the center of attention and believe the audience wants to hear everything they have to say. Effective speakers understand the audience is the center of attention, so everything said must benefit the audience, not satisfy the ego of the speaker.

·     Poor presentation style. Distracting mannerisms, verbal fidgeting (ums, ahs), and pacing back and forth all detract from speaker credibility. Rather than being able to relax and absorb what’s being said, the audience only shares the speaker’s discomfort.

·     Poorly designed talk. The audience expends energy trying to piece together bits of information, rather than being able to expand on the ideas being presented.

·     Poorly designed graphics. The audience is forced to guess what an image means, rather than just listen to the speaker and understand the points being made.

·     Lack of attention to audience needs. An audience member who is thirsty, hungry, deprived of caffeine, or in need of a break has a difficult time listening, let alone focusing and appreciating.

A good presentation demonstrates respect for the audience. It says the speaker values the audience enough to make the experience completely enjoyable. Most people will forgive poor presentation style if the content is valuable or interesting; however, they have every right to expect a presentation with good content and excellent delivery.


Are you an experienced speaker interested in improving your skills and increase the effectiveness of your presentations? The Speakers Academy is a fast, intense, four-part workshop for professionals that want to increase their confidence, become more credible, and accomplish more with their words.

We will build on your existing skills and bring you to a new level with your speaking.

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  1. Think about it if you were an attendee- would you be bored if you were watching your own lecture? Sometimes you can run your presentation by a neutral audience; usually kids/teens are a good test because if they can pay attention to it, anyone can!

  2. Appreaciate for the work you have put into this post, it helps clear away a few questions I had.

  3. Rust, dirt and nicks that you mention happen a lot when people prepare for their OWN presentation. Not for their audience. Sadly a lot of advice is still provided on improving the delivery and slides but not so much on the content. Like you said, audience do forgive anything if content is really strong.

    • You are correct – PowerPoint is a TOOL to be used to enhance the words of the speaker. The speaker should have a single, clear objective for each slide.

      Most speakers “self-evaluate” their slides (“If I understand it, I am sure it will make sense to the audience”). In doing this, they forget they already KNOW the material and the audience does not. This is what you are referring to about the presentation being for the audience, not the speaker.

      The focus of the Speakers Academy this week is on design and creation of visual aids. Your comment is very timely, thank you.

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