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February 12, 2016
Lessons in Presenting from Valentine's Day
In the U.S., as in many other parts of the world, Valentine’s Day is often celebrated with a romantic dinner, flowers, chocolates, or some other expression of just how much we care.

Not everyone acknowledges February 14th with the same tenderness, but there is plenty to learn from those who make a real effort to make it special each year, even when it comes to presenting.

Lesson 1: Surprise Them
Twelve red roses arriving at your office each year may be lovely, but if it becomes expected, it’s a little tedious. The old saying “variety is the spice of life” is such an overused one because it has foundation.

It’s exactly the same when it comes to presenting.

Most audiences have seen and heard it all before and they long for something a little different.

Tons of data, obvious clip art images, and line after line of bullet points read out in the same corporate speak telling people what they mostly already know or could easily read in an email isn’t a great way to woo your audience.

Surprise them by daring to be different.

Tell them stories.
Involve them.
Help them to use their imagination.
Use humor where appropriate.
Use props, compelling videos, and stunning slides.

Lesson 2: Don’t Get Your Flowers From the Service STation
Many years ago I was an executive of a major flower retail and delivery business, and the run-up to Valentine’s Day was always an eye-opener. It amazed me how so many guys believed that rushing to the service station on the way home from work to grab the nearest bunch of flowers they could find would be enough to wow their loved ones.

Last-minute, cheap flowers with the price tag still firmly stuck on the packaging never do the trick.

In other words, don’t leave your preparation to the last minute. One of the most crucial elements of a successful impact is in the crafting of your presentation. As the late Dr. Stephen Covey wrote in the famous book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, one of our first priorities as leaders —and I believe as presenters — is to “Begin with the end in mind.”

Highly effective presenters never leave their presentation to the last minute; they allow ample time to carefully construct and rehearse every aspect of their presentation. Long before they open the laptop, they focus mindfully on:

What they want their audience to think
What they want them to feel
What they want them to do
Why they should listen
Why they should care
The tangible difference what you have to share will make to their lives

Lesson 3: It’s All About Love
Just like Valentine’s Day is all about the expression of love, so too is every presentation. Let me explain:

It helps a great deal if you love the message you are about to share. Rest assured — if you don’t, then your audience won’t either.

You have to craft content that your audience will love because it is totally relevant to them, highly compelling, and will clearly add value to their lives.

You have to love the opportunity and envision the positive impact your message will make on your audience.

You have to craft and deliver your entire preparation with thoughts of respect, kindness, and love for your audience.

Valentine’s Day may be an annual event, but it’s likely that many of us will be presenting several times a year. Following these three principles alone will go a very long way to ensuring that every time you present you do so with impact and make a real connection with your audience.

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Maurice De Castro is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s best loved brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organisation lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create a business helping leaders to do exactly that. Learn more at www.mindfulpresenter.com
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