Let’s begin by getting past the fifth word in the title of this BLArticle®, which, on some level, may have offended you. I’m referring to the word “greed.” Believe it or not, I happen to agree with the words of Gordon Gecko from Wall Street: “Greed is good.”
Ask yourself why you invested the time to hit the link and read this BLArticle®? I’m assuming you’ve come this far because you felt you could learn some ideas relating to the audiences you might speak in front of, and you believed this would help you to become more successful. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but I would call that greed.
Greed isn’t a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I always secretly hope that the audience members I address might be feeling a healthy level of greed. I’m hoping they are practically stewing in their seats thinking, “I sure hope I get something out of this!” This doesn’t make me nervous; it inspires me. If I didn’t think I had something for that audience, I wouldn’t be there. It sure beats the alternative, and that would be when the people in the audience are slumping in their seats thinking this to themselves: “I could care less if I learn something or not. I just need a place to rest.” Not exactly a formula for success for the members of the audience or for the unfortunate speaker who addresses this audience.
So now that we can agree that greed isn’t a bad thing, how do we approach this topic with the audience? I think most speakers agree that greed needs to be addressed as early as possible in the presentation. The real question is how to address it. In a perfect world, we could survey the audience before we get there and ask them: “What would you like to get out of this presentation?” Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world, and that’s why I have always believed in addressing greed on these three levels:
- “What’s in it for me personally?” This first level of greed comes from a basic need we all have. Most people are looking for a way to better themselves on a personal level, as well as on a business level. It’s not unusual for someone to find that a new business skill or an idea learned on the job can have personal benefits as well. An example might sound something like this: “The approach you are about to learn can be extremely helpful to many similar tasks you perform at home.”
- “What’s in it for me professionally?” This second level of greed is one that is most commonly addressed, and takes care of a high percentage of the audience. You would be surprised at how many speakers do not address this and merely assume that the members of the audience can connect the dots. We all know what happens when we assume! You will never lose an audience member by taking a moment early to address this. An example might be something like this: “Learning this new approach will simplify your day-to-day activities, and provide you with more time to spend with your clients.”
- “What’s in it for the company?” The most forgotten level of greed is one that might address the needs of the smallest portion of the audience… but politically, perhaps the most important members of the audience. What is the downside of addressing why your presentation would benefit the company, as well as the individuals in that company? An example could be this: “If we are able to learn this new skill, it’s going to help make this company more successful.”
The reality is this: We never know which members of the audience will respond to which of these three levels of greed, but we do know that we will satisfy everyone’s needs when we begin our presentations this way. What is involved in making this happen? We’re talking about carefully planning out about 45 seconds of your presentation. When you take the time to do this, I can assure you that you’ll find you have everyone’s attention.