Present with passion

21st January 2014

Audiences like presenters to speak with passion. After all, if the presenter doesn’t care about their topic, why should we?

We all know this. Therefore we all also know that our audiences want us to present with passion to them.

But some of us find it hard to remember to inject passion…

…Instead, we often resort to last-minute, rushed prep; and then use word-y slides to act as speaker prompts. And, let’s face it, it’s virtually impossible to speak with passion to your audience if you have to read your slides. This approach just doesn’t work well for the audience. Which means it doesn’t work well for you.

It’s understandable to do this approach once – after all, we all get crazy-busy sometimes. But when it becomes the norm, that’s when the problems start.

Let’s see how passionate you are. Here are two quick questions for you:

  • On a rating scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (brilliant), how would you grade your ability to always present with passion?
  • What grade would your audiences give you?

And here’s how to improve both scores…

Presenters’ passion tends to come from one of three sources:

  • What you’re like
  • What you’re saying
  • What you’re causing

So, for the first, some people are just like that. They’re passionate about everything.

The second group gets their passion from their subject matter. For example, a technical specialist who loves their topic and gets a buzz when talking about it.

The third loves the impact their presentation will cause: what I call the AFTERs: why people are better-off AFTER hearing it. There are two main types of AFTERs here: why your audience is better-off, and why you are better-off.

For example, my burning passion is to enable the people I speak to. That puts me in the third group. So, during my prep, I’ve worked out why they’ll be better-off AFTER hearing me speak – say, they’ll have more clarity, time freed up, quicker buy-in… whatever it is. And I keep focusing on that during my presentation

This makes it easy for me to speak with passion. You don’t have to be in Group Three. But you do want to be in one of them. Because if you aren’t, there’s too little passion. And when that happens, nobody wins.

Action point

Before your next presentation, ask yourself:

  • What “passion score” do I want to give myself after this presentation?
  • What “passion score” do I want my audience to give me?
  • What’s my source for this passion? (Will it come from what you’re like, saying or causing?)

And then, keep focusing on your answers throughout your prep, delivery and follow-up…

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