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Impactful Presentations

by Randall Craig on March 4, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Presentations

Tagged as: , , ,

Even though you may be on stage when you are making a presentation, it is your audience that deserves the focus. They don’t care about you – at best they only care about how you can “solve their problem” – at worst, they want to be entertained. Changing focus to the audience doesn’t happen by accident – it requires preparation, both before and after the presentation itself. Here are a number of ideas from delivering many 100’s of keynote speeches over the last decade or so.

Before the presentation. Ensure that you really understand the audience and their objectives. Answering a few simple questions can make a huge difference: Why are they there? Do they have to be? What are they hoping to learn or accomplish, as a result of listening to you? Of course, if your presentation is worth giving, it is worth rehearsing: your style and fluency should help deliver your message, not hinder it.

At the end of the presentation. The purpose of your audience is not to be a “receptacle” for your ideas, nor are they there to feed your ego. The mark of a successful presentation is one that causes something to happen: mindsets are changed, action is created, or decisions are made. So why not end the meeting with a focus on action? Here are a few ideas:

  • Challenge each attendee to commit to doing one thing based on what they each learned.
  • Ask each pair of people to share with each other their most important take-away from the presentation.
  • Ask each person to write down an idea that you will compile and circulate.
  • Gain agreement, as a group, as to the next steps and responsibilities.

While all of these ideas apply to group presentations, they are equally applicable in small group meetings, networking meetings, and even one-on-one meetings with your manager or staff.

This week’s action item: Run through these ideas prior to your next group meeting or presentation. It’s all about your audience: what you do before and after can change a good presentation into an impactful one.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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