It’s About Passion and Being Real
You’re all set to begin your presentation. You’ve been introduced. Your past and present achievements have been checked off by the host. Goodness knows you are nervous and ready to plunge into your presentation, but taking one more, potentially risky, step can make all the difference in your success. What more needs to happen before you click the button for the first slide?
Take a moment to explain to your audience why you are passionate about the topic you’ve chosen. This may seem unnecessary because after all, the people in the room have come because you are the expert. But expertise is different from passion. Passion says, this is personal, this matters to me. When I can, I talk about where my passion for the topic comes from by telling a personal story.
We hear over and over that stories are necessary elements of a great presentation. And lo and behold, here’s an easy way to begin with a story. Tell a story that shows why you are so engaged with the topic. Why does this subject mean so much to you: because you have a brother with this particular disability; because you were born in the South – New England – new Delhi – where this notion is a way of life; because you blew up the basement with a science experiment when you were seven; because you are color blind – short – a red head. There is a story behind each of these – a story that can bind your audience to you and your topic before you’ve even started your presentation. If the connection is quirky, unexpected or funny, even better.
A second reason to begin by explaining your passion for the topic is that you are being open and authentic with your audience. You can prove your reliability and honesty quickly by being transparent and real in your opening remarks. Showing your passion goes way beyond talking about previous jobs, your pay grade,your job responsibilities. It helps to show that you have come to be of service to the audience and not to feed your ego. I believe it is much better that you come across as real than as perfect. It is better to have a couple flaws that the audience can relate to rather than a power-packed resume that makes the audience feel inferior. Talking about a few strike outs is better than boasting about a bunch of home runs to let the audience know that you have feet of clay, just like they do.
Never depend upon anyone introducing you to do more than give a list of your achievements. They can’t explain your passion and they aren’t doing to talk about any mistakes you’ve made along the way. Of course,make sure that you give the MC a resume to use for the facts. But nothing, nothing! substitutes for your story.
So, go for broke. Pull back the curtain and let your audience see the real you. It might even calm your jitters. It will certainly help you connect with your audience and take a bit of the chill off the room.
What do you think? Is this something you do? Have you found good stories to explain why you have a passion for your presentation topic?
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