by Steve Adubato, PhD

Being able to present in a competent and compelling fashion is critical in order to be a well-rounded, highly effective leader who motivates, persuades and energizes others. Yet, many leaders have a massive gap in their professional toolkit when it comes to the ability to present with confidence. The next time you are preparing to make an important presentation ask yourself the following questions that can help:

--What is your main message? If your audience forgets everything else you say, what’s the one thing you want to make sure they remember? You can’t have three or four main messages. Most people can barely remember one. Edit yourself. Be disciplined. Set time aside—I suggest with key support staff—to consider possible messages and debate them back and forth. Then make sure everything you say in your presentation supports your main message.

--What will move, motivate, and inspire your audience? What does your audience feel passionately about? What will get them to act? Before you present, engage several people who will be in your audience and ask them these questions. This point of view will help you prepare and deliver a presentation that will have the maximum impact for your audience.

--Where is YOUR passion? How do you really feel about the message you’re delivering? Great leaders must be genuinely passionate about what they are saying and why they are saying it. If an audience recognizes you really believe what you are saying, they are likely to be more receptive to your message, even if they don’t agree with everything you say.

--Why not the status quo? If you are proposing a new program or initiative, or anything that alters the status quo, you must understand that change is often challenging and unnatural for people. Therefore, it is important to explain why the status quo won’t work. Make the case by using graphics and relevant examples of what is likely to happen if the present course of action is maintained.

--What is the payoff? To create buy in, you must also paint a positive picture of the good things that are likely to occur by investing the time and effort needed to accomplish what you are advocating in your presentation. Deliver specifics with concrete benefits.

--What is the call to action? Don’t leave your audience hanging. Be clear and be specific regarding exactly what the next steps are and what you want them to do. This will help avoid confusion and instead, provide direction and focus.

Samantha Rizzuto, Morris Hills HS Graduate, Academy for Math, Science & Engineering shares her leadership advice about connecting with your audience.