By Phil Roybal
Once in a while, not very often, I have a chance to listen to a great presenter.
There are lots of fine speakers, probably millions of so-so ones, and those magnificently dreadful ones who raise on-stage train wrecks to a fine art. You’ve probably encountered representatives of each group. But are there speakers you look forward to?
I’d go out of my way to hear Steve Jobs talk. I’d look forward to it.
Why? It’s not for his command of volumes of facts, nor for because he never says “um”. What makes his speeches so compelling is the passion, the almost naive enthusiasm, which he displays in talking about his subjects. And those subjects aren’t his products. Products are just the hook he hangs the presentation on.
Steve focuses on the user experience. He paints a magnificent experience—one people not only want to have, but one they use to make a statement about themselves. The experience is the thing, and it’s “wonderful”, “cool”, and “amazing”. He provides just enough product detail to make the experience believable. Because that’s all it take to sell the idea. Once people are sold, they’ll go to a web site to get more details, and convince themselves that any missing elements aren’t really that important. In their hearts, they’ve bought the experience they could be having if only they had the ____ (fill in the product here). The rest is just detail.
So how about when you speak? Are you focused on something people can emotionally identify with? Are you telling them how they’ll rule the world if they have what you’re providing? Or is it death by PowerPoint—an endless parade of charts and bullet points—with the listener on his or her own to develop meaning from the words?
If you want listeners to look forward to your talks, and recommend them to friends, you’ve got to leave the cool features behind. Talk about what they mean in lives of your listeners, and let your passion for that meaning shine through your words. That’s what’ll get people looking forward to your presentations.