“Most businesses have a culture of coming together for presentations but very few people use that opportunity to communicate clearly or stand out,” says Emma Bannister, founder and CEO of the Presentation Studio.
“So many people take that presentation, that opportunity for face-to-face communication, and waste it by reading exactly what’s on the slide and failing to make a human connection.”
Bannister – who recently penned the NY Times best-seller 'Brain Rules' – says that without a human connection, presentations often fail to resonate with their audience and are unlikely to drive change.
“Humans make decisions based on their emotional connections and we just justify our decision based on the logic so presentations have to tap into that emotional aspect,” says Bannister.
Instead of filling slides with text, facts and figures, Bannister says anyone hoping to win buy-in should share stories and use compelling visuals to create memorable reference points for their audience.
“Things like infographics, visuals, diagrams, key words, they really help build that human connection and motivate people to act,” she tells HRD
“Think of a presentation like a show-reel or the highlights – you speak for 10 minutes, get your point across, really stand out then you can have a follow-up discussion or provide a report on the key points.”
Bannister also says building a human connection is far easier if the presenter can build common ground with everyone else in the meeting.
“You can get that common ground by saying; ‘Okay, we’ve both got the same challenges ahead’ or ‘we’ve both experienced the same thing,’ so they know you’re like them and they know you understand them,” she says.
“That’s why it’s so important to research your audience so you understand why they’ve come to listen to you and what they’re hoping you can do for them,” she continues.
“If you don’t have that common ground, you’re coming in as almost a completely opposite person and they’re far less likely to listen to you,” she warns.
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A good presentation can mean the difference between securing senior level buy-in and losing executive support but – according to one industry expert – many HR professionals aren’t making the most of the valuable opportunity.