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5 ways to connect with your audience rather than confuse them

We all have to give presentations at some stage in our careers. An extremely useful skill is knowing how to package the detail and insight in a way that gets the message across clearly, informs or entertains the audience, and leaves them ‘moved’ by what they’ve heard. A uniquely human skill is the ability to add emotion and the understanding of how to connect with the audience you are addressing.  So how do we hone this essential skill?

How to present your idea effectively – and win your audience’s buy-in

1. Speak human and be prepared

Your idea might be great – but how you present it is what matters. Speak to what they might care about (anecdotes always work) and think about how you can connect with them on a human level. Try not to use too much jargon, do incorporate case studies to bring the theory to life, and present historical evidence or a feel-good story that gives the audience shivers. The goal is to build empathy and speak directly to the listener.

Some presentations touch hearts and change minds, but if you’ve ever sat through a snooze-worthy presentation, you probably realize that there’s art to this type of communication. Nancy Duarte - Resonate Click To Tweet

2. Do your research, know your content

You should always be able to speak with conviction and back-up your knowledge. Be prepared for that moment where someone questions a reference you make in your presentation. How embarrassing would it be if you didn’t know the answer? Do your research, own what you are talking about and deliver it with the utmost clarity and confidence.

3. Get to the point

No one likes to hear someone waffle or “umm and ahhh” repeatedly. Keep it tight and short. The reality is that in this fast-paced digital world, we demand instant gratification. So get to the point before you lose your audience. It’s always a good idea to run your pitch past a third-party, a fresh set of eyes. Someone who can advise if you are spending too long on a topic, the slides just aren’t working or you’re making eyes roll.

4. Use visuals

Look around you.. we live in a visual world, so use visual aids in your pitch to support your message. That being said – use visuals only if they serve a purpose, and not as decorative elements only. No one wants to see the same old generic stock photo. Communicate the message strongly with the appropriate image and speak to it instead of layering copious bullet points next to it. The message and the visual should work together – not compete.

Visuals express ideas in a snackable manner - Kim Garst Click To Tweet

5. Interact

You are on stage, so own it. Ask questions, tell a joke, prompt social media engagement and most importantly – be human. Interaction and a larger-than-life presence is key to winning your audience’s attention.

Putting it into practice

Red & Yellow’s focus is on teaching uniquely human skills, over and above knowledge and skills. One of the ways this comes into play is when our Advanced Diploma in Marketing & Advertising Communications students present their end-of-year MAC Live presentations.

Students do research on an idea that is important to them, frame it in a manner that would be of interest to industry, and present those ideas in 10 tightly-packed minutes. It taps into those elements that make us uniquely human – approaching ideas from a new perspective, deciding on a point of view and communicating it in an effective and relevant manner.

We’ve compiled a montage of highlights to give you a quick preview. And if you’d like to explore further, here are the full presentations.