When you stand up to speak in a professional setting, there are three primary ways you are interacting with your audience: the message you have developed, the slides you have created, and the delivery skills you exhibit. All three matter, because all three impact your audience’s experience.
Many people think about their work presentations this way: create a slide deck and then speak to the slides. Wrong. That is flawed thinking.
The best speakers think about things this way:
1. What is the message I want to deliver, the story I want to tell?
2. How do I create slides that help me tell THAT story, without making things hard for the audience?
3. What delivery skills do I need to help me drive home that message, without distracting my audience?
The best speakers, in other words, are thinking about the complete experience for the audience, and they make sure that once they have a good and valuable and interesting message, that nothing (not the slides and not their delivery) will ruin things for them.
The next time you listen to someone else present, listen on three levels:
1. Is their message making sense and is it well organized, valuable and easy to follow?
2. Do the slides make my life easier or harder?
3. Is there anything in their delivery that is distracting me away from listening to and absorbing their message?
Think about how you would coach that person to be better. And then apply the same approach to yourself. Think about the complete audience experience. Let nothing get in the way.
Photo by Matt Cornock used under the following license.