10 Presentation Tips: Tip No. 10 — Respect the Audience

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This is the last post in a 10-post series on tips for effective presentations. For an explanation as to why I’m adding this series to a data-oriented blog, see the intro to the first post in the series. To view other tips in the series, click here.

Tip No. 10: Respect the Audience

This last tip is more of a perspective than a tip.

It’s last because it’s the tip that drives the reason for paying attention to all of the other tips.

It’s last because it’s a tip that is all too often flagrantly ignored.

It’s last because it can be a little scary.

The experience that prompted me to write this series was my participation in the inaugural #ACCELERATE conference in San Francisco last fall. As it turned out, I was the last presenter of the day — one of the 5-minute Super #ACCELERATE presentations.

Here’s one way I could have viewed my presentation:

It’s only 5 minutes, so I should try to do something pretty solid, but, if it falls flat, it’s only a small fraction of the overall conference.

Here’s how I actually viewed the presentation:

 It’s 5 minutes, but it’s 5 minutes in front of of 300 people, so that’s actually 1500 minutes, or 25 hours. If I swag that the fully loaded cost of the members of the audience is, on average, $50/hour, then I need to deliver a $1,250 presentation!

Okay, so it’s a little tough to really make this math work is a 5-minute presentation, but think about a 20-minute presentation ($5,000) or a 30-minute presentation ($7,500) or an hour-long presentation ($15,000). Change the hourly cost however you see fit, but do the mental exercise to consider the opportunity cost of the presentation — the total amount that is being invested by the audience members who could be doing something else rather than listening to you present. That is the amount of value you should fully commit to delivering with your presentation.

Each member of the audience is paying to watch your presentation, regardless of whether they had to pay a monetary fee to sit through it.

They’re paying with a finite and valuable commodity: their time.

Recognize that. Respect that. Do everything you can to make it a worthwhile investment on their part.

Photo by Eric T. Peterson

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