Are you bringing the passion?
If you've ever been in a relationship, you will know the importance of passion. It makes everything more exciting, and crucially keeps the other person interested! Why then, when it comes to presenting, do we leave that passion at the door? Now, I'm not suggesting we bring our 'bedroom passion' to the table (HR would probably frown upon that), so carry on reading to find out how you can bring the right passion that will have your audience eating out of the palm of your hand...
So what are we actually talking about?
Passion comes in all shapes and sizes, but it has a key central component that doesn't change, and that is emotional connection. Passionate people really care about what they're presenting, and the result is that it captivates their audience. You may disagree with someone who is speaking passionately, but it is hard to stop listening or forget them. I remember very early in my career as a buyer, I met the head of Quality Assurance for the company I was working with. As far as I was concerned, he had the most boring job in the world. However, he talked about what he did so passionately that I came back to the office and volunteered to champion QA within the department! (My colleagues did not share my new found enthusiasm.)
But what if I have to present boring material?
This is the first question I'm always asked when talking about this with my coaching and training clients. The answer is, who says it's boring? It's only boring if you've decided it is. Most people have passion the wrong way around - they wait for something to come along that makes them feel passionate (and therefore they can be waiting a long time). My suggestion to you would be to go out and find your passion for something! If you think something is boring, look for any redeeming feature that could be seen as interesting. Or, look for interesting analogies to what you have to present, or ways in which you can present it. Boring only exists as a subjective opinion, so choose a different opinion.
Top tips for finding some passion
If ever I need to help a coaching client find their passion for a subject they have to present on, I just ask them some questions:
- What do you find interesting about this?
- What might your audience find interesting about this?
- How will knowing about this help them?
- What's the bigger picture - how does this fit into and help the vision?
- If this (subject) didn't exist, what would the consequences be?
- If you already felt passionate about this, why would that be?
In essence, I get them to find their passion by making them look hard for it! For instance, if you're presenting 'boring' quarterly figures then think about what they represent (growth, profitability, sustained improvement, job security, less stress, job fulfilment, purpose, happiness etc.). Always look for the connection that gets you, and therefore hopefully your audience, at the emotional level.
This all seems like hard work. Why should I bother?
Aside from the fact that your audience will actually remember your presentation and will remember you as an engaging presenter, you will also find that once you have found some passion for the subject, that planning the presentation, coming up with the slide deck, rehearsing it and even doing it will be so much easier and more enjoyable. If that isn't a huge incentive, I don't know what is. If you still need more convincing, think back to any presentations that you remember as being good (or watch ANY Ted Talk online) and ask yourself, was the presenter passionate about what they were talking about?
So, the next time you're giving a presentation, don't wait for the passion to hit you - go out and find it, and then you can enjoy the enormous benefits that will come with it.