Presentation Power – Does Your Audience Hate To Read?

Clients, prospects, and employees. Are you hearing the same thing? They hate to read, right?

No time to read is the biggest complaint.

Have you been getting this from your clients, prospects, and internal groups? My clients sure have.

And here’s the secret: don’t fight it.

If you notice that everyone is too busy, too distracted, and too impatient to read, you have a simple choice. Go with it.

Don’t try to buck the trend. Don’t try to be a schoolmaster and force folks to read your presentation. Don’t try to fight a losing battle.

Nope. Instead of going against the tide, go with it. If participants don’t want to read, give them something more fun: Eye candy.

Make your information instantly engaging with color, photos, and simple charts. Sure, you can sneak in a couple key words. That’s also known as a title for your graphics. This is a good idea. It appeals to both sides of the brain.

But don’t go overboard. If you stuff your charts with a lot of tiny hard-to-read print, you’ve just recreated the same problem. Charts with lots of words are as hard to read as bullet-point-only slides jammed with text.

Your participants may have different reasons for why they don’t like to read. Perhaps they are busy, important, and highly visual decision makers. This is a perfect time to create a one-page visual summary. Use it instead of a written executive summary. You’re in for a pleasant treat.

My prediction is your super-busy clients will want one handout — the visual summary. They’ll grab it and wave it around, saying, “See! This is what I’ve been looking for!”

But maybe your clients don’t like to read because English is not their first language. Recently I coached a social worker facing this issue. She needed to present information to her clients so they could fill out necessary forms and complete government paperwork..

They did not read English. Many of her clients were illiterate also in their original language.

Instead of trying to go the reading route, she created visual maps showing the processes. With a series of simple drawings and diagrams she explained the concepts they needed to learn. It worked like a charm.

A little while back, I spoke to a passionate woman, who directs of a prominent leadership program in Washington, DC. Here’s what she told me: “No one likes to read. They all complain about it. I’m constantly looking for solutions.”

If you are hearing comments like this from your participants, take a different tack. Get visual. Challenge yourself to find different ways to share information. Choose from some of these options and you’ll be ready to go:

• One page cheat sheets

• Visual blueprints

• Video clips

• Hand-drawn cartoons

• Visual overview maps

• Flow charts

• Colorful timelines

To find out how to increase the impact of your presentation, you may want to dive deeper into all the options to connect with your clients and prospects – in addition to written material.

Now, I bet you have a presentation coming up. Take a look at it with fresh eyes. Where can you help your audience with visual charts and diagrams? How can you reduce the stress and tension of reading?

Grab a piece of paper right now. Jot down your ideas and get to work. When you remove the pain your audience experiences, you’ll find a simple fact: they will be more receptive to your presentation.

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