Imagine playing a game of darts with no bull’s eye…

You would have little chance of winning if you were throwing darts at a dart board, without any certainty over where you should be aiming for the most points. You would just be aiming wherever, throwing it at the board and simply hoping you’ll win. Not a great strategy!

Yet people do this, metaphorically, all the time when they’re presenting. They think that once they’ve defined their topic (the dart board) they’re good to go. However, you need to define your objective (the bull’s eye) in order to truly nail a presentation and harness your power as a presenter.

Let me explain a little further…

I want you to think about a time when you’ve been asked to present on something, or potentially when you’ve decided yourself that you want to present on something. That’s generally when your topic is defined for you or when you define your topic.

If you just leave it there and start pulling together your slides, you will most likely present and if you’re lucky, people might even think hmm that was interesting. But if you don’t get more specific than that, your information will come across in a scattergun approach and you won’t leave your audience with a clear takeaway for them to action. Now if you don’t influence them to action, I would challenge you that you have failed as a presenter. You have wasted people’s time and yours. There’s a reason that TED Talks tag line is ‘ideas worth spreading’ and not ‘topics worth spreading’…!

In order to influence people, you need to take it one step further and define your objective. i.e. what action do you want your audience to take and why? It’s important you define the specific ‘action’ you want them to take, who your ‘audience’ actually comprises of, and the compelling ‘reason’ why this is the case. This forces you to be specific about your point of view on a topic and forces you to get clear on what’s in it for your audience.

Let’s look at some examples of the difference between a topic vs an objective, as this illustrates quite clearly how tailored your presentation can be, once you define your end goal.

Topic                       Objective

Leadership              Inspiring leaders and companies to start with why to inspire action.

[From the Simon Sinek TED Talk ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’ 2009]

Body Language      Getting anybody to use their body as a tool to transform their mindset.

[From the Amy Cuddy TED Talk ‘Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are’, 2012]

Malaria                   Influencing those not exposed to malaria to care enough, so they donate.

[From the Bill Gates TED Talk ‘Mosquitoes, Malaria and Education’, 2009]

So next time you’re preparing a presentation, I want you to remember the ‘dart board’ rule. Don’t just define your topic, define your objective. You will drastically improve your ability to influence your audience to action if you do so.