Successful presenters understand that it’s not about them; it’s about their audience, so says Chris Anderson, the curator of TED Talks, a wildly popular global set of conferences whose viewership surpassed 1 billion in 2012. The key is to analyze your audience by mapping out their reality and what they might want to know. From that point forward, it’s all about emotional connection. In this lesson, Anderson teaches you simple tips for making your presentations more compelling and persuasive. Learn more at Big Think+.
Chris Anderson: How do you make good presentations? I think it's astonishingly hard actually to do it because everyone suffers from something that <a href="http://bigthink.com/experts/stevenpinker" target="_blank">Steven Pinker</a> calls the “curse of knowledge.” When you know something, you actually can't remember what it's like not to know it. I mean, you just can't. So when you explain it to someone, nine times out of ten you start from a place where they aren't and they don't really understand what you're saying. And that is the reason why so many talks and presentations fail.
Take your audience on a journey
So if you think about it, what's happening during a great talk, it's a real miracle. You are transferring an idea from your mind to those listening. An idea is this incredibly complex neurological thing. I mean, if you could actually map it it would probably be billions, literally billions of neurons go to make this pattern. How on earth do you get a pattern that involves billions of neurons to transfer to another mind?
The only way you can do it is step-by-step. So that is the key metaphor for me is you think of a talk or a presentation as a journey. You start where your audience is and you give them a reason to want to come with you on this journey. So make them curious, make them care about a problem, make them care about you somehow. And then take them step by step with each little contribution to the idea adding up a little bit so that they don't get lost in jargon or wonder where on earth you're going. Those are the keys to it. To actually execute on that is hard, but thinking of it as a journey helps.