There are plenty of misconceptions when it comes to the art of communication. One that beats all, one that could potentially ruin your presentation and your career is and probably the dumbest piece of advice you’ll ever receive on the subject is – always start off by telling a joke.
This could work on a graduate-level presentation, but when you’re addressing an audience full of industry leaders, chief executive officers, and shareholders, you’re coaxing yourself into a career suicide. None of the great communicators ever kicked off their presentation with a joke.
Excellent presentation skills require that you start off by explaining your story – clearly and concisely. Pour a bit of passion into it. A message (joke) is meaningless if nobody understands it or worse, wants to hear it. You may have Steve Jobs-level ideas, but if you cannot get them across the podium, you and your ideas aren’t going to get any further.
As a communicator, you want your message to carry more power for people to adopt it. Great leaders like Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, or President Barrack Obama, they all are speakers who shine on speeches, keynotes, product launches, staff meetings, shareholder conferences or board meetings. It’s because they’ve mastered the art of communication and they know one simple truth – never start off by telling a joke.
Geoffrey Moore, the author of Crossing the Chasm, says “When people say Steve Jobs create a reality distortion field, that’s precisely what they mean.” Change the way your audience sees the world. As a speaker, you need to connect with your audience in a way that it changes the way they see the world.
To join the ranks of world’s great communicators, you need to understand your audience first. Your audience wants to see what you see, they want to feel the passion you feel. You cannot get them to care about your message or get them to take any action if you start off by telling a joke just for laughs.
It doesn’t matter, whether you’re facing your shareholders, senior managers, or employees – you need to learn that your audience is made up of human beings. They want to be inspired not cracked up in laughter for a few seconds and die of boredom for the next fifty-five minutes. Use your charisma to win over your audience by telling a compelling story. Get them to care about you and your message.
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