Is it all about me — or all about you?

The “IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU” Speaker

Imagine this: You’ve just left a presentation that inspired and motivated you. The speaker made you laugh one minute, and then see connections the next. You gotapplause ideas, tips, enjoyed relevant stories and examples, a great handout, and a message that inspired you. And most importantly, the speaker seemed to talk directly to you and your needs. It was almost as if you and the speaker shared similar life experiences and values. As you leave, you are grateful that you decided to attend the presentation and promise yourself to take action based on what you learned. What a valuable use of your time it was!

 The “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!” Speaker
And now, imagine this: You’re sitting in an audience about to listen to a speaker tell [what you hope] is an inspirational story about how they became so successful. Perhaps you’ll be able to learn some valuable lessons that you can apply to your current situation. Kiss it catThe speaker starts with a long, text-heavy powerpoint slide that lists their credentials and qualifications, complete with fancy initials that follow their name. They boast about their accomplishments, their awards, their rock-solid work ethic, and how many businesses they had by the time they were 18 years old. You wait and hope that they will share something of value — something that isn’t purely about THEM — that shows that they care about what their audience gets out of the presentation.  But… nothing. The conclusion goes something like: “I’m so busy and successful, you would have to stand in line if you wanted to work with me.” Ah, well. There goes an hour of your life.
It’s Not About You…Seriously
It’s not too hard to see that the first speaker wins praise for being attuned to her audience’s needs. Before speaking, she has researched who they are, why they’re there, and what they expect to hear. She delivers valuable content that’s geared directly to them. The second speaker, however, is not attuned at all. She aims to impress her audience by listing her qualifications and credentials, but what she doesn’t realize is that her audience is filled with intelligent and accomplished people who are hoping to learn something new and interesting from her.  With her self-focused content and inability to provide anything of value to the audience, she simply ends up alienating and frustrating them.
Here’s the reality: People care about themselves and how to solve their problems. So to get them to appreciate your message, the speech should be about the audience and their needs. As a speaker, you must resist the urge to focus on talking about your products and services, and what makes you the best person for the job.
A composed, prepared, information-rich presentation will go a lot farther in showcasing your expertise than listing your qualifications, credentials, and experience. Even if you’re asked to speak about your company or your products, make it about your customers or the problems you solve instead. Provide them with valuable content — and they are a lot more likely to provide you with their appreciation, their recommendation, and their business.
(This article also appears in the Ideal Communications newsletter, April 2009)
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