Connect with your audience for better business presentations

When it comes to business presentations, we tend to focus on the facts and figures – the hard data that support our message.  While these elements are important, they’re not the only things that matter.  Unless you connect with your audience, your presentation will fail.

Making an emotional connection with your audience is also essential if you really want them to remember your presentation and act on it. When you connect, you become a better presenter.

Why emotion matters in business presentations

Before we dive into how to use emotion in business presentations, it’s important to understand why it matters.  As human beings, we’re wired to respond to things emotionally.  We remember experiences that made us feel something, whether it’s joy, fear, excitement, or anger.  Emotions also play a crucial role in decision-making – when we make business decisions, we often rely on our gut instinct or intuition.

When you appeal to your audience’s emotions, you create a connection with them that goes beyond the words on your slides.  You’re tapping into their values, beliefs and aspirations, and showing them why your message matters.  This can make your presentation more memorable, as people are more likely to remember how you made them feel than what you said.  As a result, you become much more persuasive.

Know your audience

The first step in connecting with your audience is understanding them.  What motivates them?  What are their pain points?  What are their values, goals and aspirations? Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, you can tailor your presentation so that it resonates with them emotionally.   

For example, if your audience is relatively young and instinctively concerned about sustainability, you may choose to specifically frame some of your talk around your organisation’s impact on the environment.

Tell a story!

One of the most effective ways to connect with your audience is through storytelling.  Stories are powerful because they tap into our emotions and help us relate to the experiences of others.  When you tell a personal story, you’re giving your audience a glimpse into your world and inviting them to join you on your journey.  It’s also when you’re telling stories that your audience is most attentive.  Learn how to tell great stories by visiting themoth.org.

Use images and metaphors

Sometimes your audience will need a little help getting to grips with abstract concepts or complicated facts.  Metaphors, similes and analogies are useful tools for bringing these to life.  

They help to make complex ideas more relatable and make your message more visual.  For example, if your business is a diversified group, you might say, “Our companies are a flotilla, all different, but all sailing together to the same destination.”  Or, describing your latest product, you might say, “If the last generation of our product was a top-end Mercedes, this is a Lamborghini.”

Be authentic and make it personal

Audiences can tell when you’re faking it.  They’re far less likely to connect with you if they sense you’re not being genuine.  To connect with your audience speak from the heart, be passionate, let your own personal conviction and experience carry your presentation.  You’ll be much more relatable – and people will be much more likely to remember what you say – if you don’t put on an act, but are simply yourself.

Show emotive visuals

They say a picture paints a thousand words, so if you want to connect with your audience, take the short cut: show them a powerful, emotional image. 

For example, illustrate the impact of climate change with a photo of an empty mud flat where a lake used to be, a hurricane-devastated town, or a seal swimming through a sea of floating plastic.  And if you need to use graphs and charts, make sure they’re designed so that their message is clear and compelling.

Use humour

If you can make your audience smile or laugh, you’ll make an instant emotional connection.  It will help break down barriers and make your message more memorable.  Don’t try telling a string of jokes – professional comedians are professionals for a reason.  And don’t try too hard: just draw on your experience, tell some amusing stories from your own life, or humorous anecdotes from someone else’s – provided they’re relevant to your audience and reinforce your message. Humour is a powerful way to connect with your audience.

Be enthusiastic

Speak passionately and enthusiastically to show your audience how much you care about what you’re saying.  Use both your voice and body language to convey strongly-felt emotion.  Vary your pace of delivery, use animated gestures, adapt the volume of your voice to the importance of the subject.  Maintain eye contact – looking at a different member of the audience each time you make a point.  And above all, smile!

End with a call-to-action

Finally, end your presentation with a clear call-to-action that taps into your audience’s emotions. Use language that inspires and motivates them to take action, or to feel differently about the subject you’ve discussed.  Paint a picture of how your business could look when you’ve successfully made the changes you’re advocating – then send off your audience with a rousing challenge to make it happen. When you connect with your audience at the end of your talk you are more likely to be remembered.

In short, connecting with your audience in business presentations is about really understanding your audience, being authentic and enthusiastic, telling them stories that resonate with their own lives, and painting emotive pictures with both words and images.  And if you smile, they will smile too!

Improve Your Business Presentation Skills Today

About Benjamin Ball Associates

Benjamin Ball Associates Team

At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help clients to communicate better. You get presentation coaching for executives.

Over 15+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.

We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately, and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.

Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email louise@benjaminball.com to find out more and discuss your upcoming speech or presentation.

Improve Your Business Presentation Skills Today

Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

Let's talk about your presentation training needs

Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

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