To kick ass on the big day and deliver your presentation in the most effective way possible, the secret is to understand your presentation audience.
The last hurdle you need to jump over in your presentation process is the climactic presentation day itself. After all your hard work of getting to a presentation story that’s clear, simple and sticky, now you’ve got to deliver the bloody thing!
For some, the actual presentation delivery is the fun bit – they are comfortable with standing at the front of a room, are great communicators and enjoy the human connection of finally being able to share their ideas.
For others, it’s their worst nightmare – cue sweaty palms, sleepless nights and resisting the urge to run for the hills.
When it comes to ironing out presentation nerves, and ensuring you kick ass on the day, the old cliché rings true: “Practice makes perfect.” Like with any pursuit, the more often you do it, the better you’ll get.
Moreover, the better you know who you’re talking to, the calmer you will be.
Try putting yourself in the shoes of your listeners and critique your presentation through their eyes – does it answer their brief, does it warrant their time, does it make them want to act or respond in the way you want them to, does it help them know/be/do more than before? This is the WHY for your audience – why they are there and the outcomes they expect.
You should also look at the HOW of your audience (how will they absorb your presentation and does it cut through to them).
One neat little tactic on how to understand the “how” is by appealing to your audience’s Communications Profile.
People types or personality profiles have been around a long time. Originally called the four temperaments by Hippocrates, they are used today in a simplified form, thanks to two psychologists, Merrill and Reid, to help observe organisational behaviour.
In a nutshell, there are four archetypes that people’s personality traits fall into, which then predict and inform their behaviour. By recognising these archetypes or profiles, you can adjust your posture, language and approach accordingly to improve your chances of influencing the other person – and vice-versa.
While you can be any of the four types at any given time, you tend to lean more naturally to one. That’s your primary Communications Profile. The four Communications Profiles are:
The Driver is the typical task-oriented person, who values getting the job done with excellent results. Hard-working and ambitious, drivers tend to be the group leaders based on their strong personalities and their get-it-done attitude. Drivers are fast-paced, keen to make decisions, take power and like taking risks. They prefer it when others are direct and decisive. The Driver can come across as brash, demanding, tough, stubborn or arrogant. Under stress, they become autocratic and order others around. The compromise they often face is sacrificing personal relationships due to their results-driven behaviour.
The Analytical values facts, principles, logic, accuracy and consistency. They have a deep need to be right about things, and therefore a highly deliberative, data-driven approach to decisions. The Analytical often prefers to work alone and has a tendency to be introverted. They often present a disciplined and unemotional face to the world, which could be interpreted as cold and uncaring. They can come across as critical, picky, perfectionistic, stubborn and indecisive. Their tendency under stress is to avoid others.
The Expressive is communicative, warm, approachable and competitive – the “natural” people persons. They enjoy socialising, talking and are great story tellers, good at communicating vision and getting others excited. Their behaviour is highly spontaneous, and they favour gut instinct in decision-making. They love attention and seek recognition and approval in their tasks. The Expressive comes across as charismatic, enthusiastic and idealistic. However, they can also be seen as impulsive, shallow, undisciplined and manipulative.
The Amiable places a high priority on friendships, close relationships and cooperative/collaborative behaviour. They are intuitive and care about the feelings of others. Amiables are fans of consensus, keen to always find the win-win outcome in difficult situations. They avoid confrontation and try to avoid upsetting anyone. Amiable people are good listeners, caring, friendly and sensitive. On the downside, they are likely to be slow with big decisions and need a lot of input. The Amiable can be hesitant, unsure, and overly dependent on others. Under stress, they acquiesce or yield to the decisions of others.
So, while it’s clear how these Communications Profiles can be helpful in day-to-day communications in your organisation, these Communications Profiles can also help with delivering your presentation.
If you are presenting to a large audience, such as making a keynote speech at a conference, it’s true that you’ll have an audience made up of all these Communications Profiles, unless you are presenting to a specific profession, such as a group of creatives or doctors or lawyers, etc., whereby you can make a good guess what Communications Profile most people would generally lean towards. In the case where you just don’t know, we obviously recommend ensuring that your content and delivery appeals consciously to all. For example, ensure you appeal to the Driver by focusing on your presentation outputs and being efficient in your language. Appeal to the Analytical by supporting your ideas with data, information and facts. Appeal to the Expressive through storytelling, analogies and the big picture. And appeal to the Amiable through humour, the warmth of your tone, and your focus on collaboration.
The application of Communications Profiles is more self-evident when presenting to a smaller audience, such as in a new business pitch or a board meeting. Here, you are able to identify and target the most senior decision-makers in the room and tailor your presentation to suit their Communications Profiles. With the help of preliminary research or past interactions, you’ll most likely have a clear idea on what types of personalities you will encounter, so you can angle your presentation closer to those traits.
With a better understanding of each Communications Profile, and ultimately your audience, you’ll be able to master the right approach to become a sophisticated chameleon of communication. Understand the WHY and HOW of your audience, and you’re on your way.
P.S. You’ll notice we didn’t get into the ins and outs of actual physical presentation delivery, such as body language, voice projection, articulation, etc., as that’s a whole other article. For now, if there is one tip we have, it is to watch this TED talk about mastering your “Presence”, whether that’s in a meeting, in an interview or onstage.
Now that you’ve reached Step 5 on how to create better, more effective presentations, read our final blog post in this series for a quick recap that you can print/bookmark/share/keep handy.