Everyone ever faced with making a presentation knows that just before you deliver, you’re thinking about the other end of the tunnel: are they going to walk away with something here?

And yet, as often as we’ve thought that, we’ve also probably been guilty of not spending much time ensuring the answer is ‘yes’. We all want to be the seer on the mountain that can just speak off the cuff and add value to people’s lives, but the reality is that most of us have to work—hard—to make a difference. Simple statistics suggest we’re all around average; the only thing that’s going to differentiate is how much we invest in the lives of others.

So it’s crucial that we be proactive in defining specifically how we’re going to reward the audience for attending our presentation. After all, as we’ve written previously, audiences often make great sacrifices to listen, and if they didn’t make a great sacrifice then chances are they’ve been forced to attend, so we presenters have an obligation to over-deliver whatever the case may be.

Here are 3 value-added approaches we try to incorporate into the presentations we write and design:

1. Something New: Everyone likes ‘new’. New things, new cars, new ideas, new news; being up to date isn’t an aesthetic, it’s a survival tactic these days. Anytime we speak, and anytime one of our clients is speaking, we try to identify at least one truly new idea or concept that we can offer the audience. It makes all the difference when the presenter is trying to cut through a wall of heard-that-before.

2. Inspire and Motivate: Sounds simple, but really, how are we going to hop on stage for half an hour and not try to touch hearts and minds? It just seems wrong: shouldn’t we share something positive? Something good? Shouldn’t our message fit into the context of a better world, and better lives for our audience members? Why would they listen to someone that didn’t care, on some level, about their fate?

3. How-to: It’s the genre that’s taking the world by storm. In more and more companies across the nation and world, the most valuable employees are the ones that are multi-capable, uber-knowledgeable, and hyperaware. The path to success is all-terrain, and for a lot of folks it’s hard to find good sources of information on even just single subjects. We encourage our clients to make an effort to educate their audiences. It’s more than just manipulating the facts to support your case; it’s about bringing people up to speed so they feel confident, knowledgeable and comfortable in making important decisions.

Next time you have a presentation to give, try to take a step back from it all and consider where the value-add is. What are they going to get out of it, other than pens with your firm’s logo on it? You’ll be surprised how attentive people can get when you strive to make your presentation meaningful “beyond the sale”, so to speak.

Question: What do you give your audience when they give you their time?

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