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Presentation Skills: What do I want these people to do?

Posted by on October 10, 2011

Presentation SkillsPresentations are a regular feature of our business landscape. Successful business people must have effective oral presentation skills. It is during those presentations that you explain, present, analyze and sell your ideas, plans, proposals and decisions. Successful business people realize that a presentation meets a need that a written report cannot fill. It allows your audience to see and judge you, allows questions to be answered on the spot, hastens decision making, and leads to action.

One of the difficulties of making a presentation is deciding what you want to say. What should your audience take away? What action should they take? If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? All of us would agree this is true for an automobile trip. Clear, concise directions ensure that you will reach your final destination. This is also true of a presentation. A successful presentation begins with a clearly defined objective. A well-conceived objective will tell you “where you are going.” It’s important to write down your objective before you get started.

The first step in writing your objective is to determine what action you want your audience to take when you are finished with your presentation. Be sure to use a verb that indicates precisely what you want your audience to do. The following list may assist you in selecting the correct verb.

Action Verbs

  • to buy
  • to invite
  • to comply
  • to select
  • to introduce
  • to change
  • to use
  • to call
  • to organize
  • to monitor
  • to authorize
  • to meet with

Once you have stated the action you want your audience to take, the next step is determine why they should take that action. What’s in it for them? How will they benefit? You must have the benefits clearly defined in order to convey them to your audience.

People are more likely to follow the action you request when they see the benefit in it for them. Your objective must state the benefits as well as the action.

The final step in writing your objective is to be sure it’s realistic. If you ask for more than you can achieve in your presentation, you are just wasting everyone’s time. Be sure you’re asking for something that your audience can say “yes” to.

When you have completed your objective, put it through this check list:

  1. What action do I want my audience to take?
  2. How will my audience benefit?
  3. Is it realistic?

If your objective answers each of these questions, it is well-written and will assist you in achieving your goal. Your direction is clear, and your audience knows where you are going.

Karen Holmes is a CGWA Senior Consultant and Trainer, based in the U.S. and delivering programs such as Coaching, Positive Power and Influence, Presentation Skills, and many more.