Do you remember when you met your partner, or your best friend? First, you made small talk just to break the ice. Then you started finding things you had in common – common interests, common views – and you’d spend hours together or on the phone, talking, listening, and learning more about each other. The relationship skills you used then can help you develop a relationship with your audience – and make better presentations.
Let’s think about those ideas in the context of how good relationships work:
Build trust with a great introduction
When family or friends introduce us to someone new, we have a higher level of trust than when we meet someone on the dance floor at a bar. Use a good introduction, delivered by someone the audience trusts, to set the stage. Rewrite each introduction for the audience – don’t send out stale bios with long lists of accomplishments. Pick out the things that are most likely to build your credibility with that audience.
Know your audience
It’s the difference between that chance meeting in the bar and being introduced at a dinner party by mutual friends – you know a little bit about the person and what you have in common. Arrive early and introduce yourself to attendees. Use what you learn to make your presentation more relevant to your audience. You’ve got a conversation starter, a way to start the relationship.
Listen, as well as talk
Be as prepared for the Q&A as you are for the presentation, by thinking about possible questions in advance. Don’t discourage comments or discussion. Agree to stay after the meeting to answer longer or more specific questions, and use that opportunity to learn new information to make your next presentation even better.
Good relationships take time
Asking someone to marry you on the first date is seldom successful. Giving a presentation is not a one-shot deal if you are trying to persuade an audience. When you need to communicate about an important issue, use each presentation as an opportunity to build relationships for the future. After the presentation, get feedback from attendees. Ask if they know another audience that should hear what you have to say.
Think about giving a great presentations as just another way to build deep and lasting relationships, and you’ll be a more effective communicator.