25. Face the Audience


The screen never says “yes”.

THE AUDIENCE IS THERE to see you pitch and to hear your story. Make eye contact with them. Talk to them. Interact as much as possible.

Never, in the midst of a pitch, turn your back on the audience.

RULE 46:
Never turn your back on the audience.

Typically, presenters make this mistake by turning around to look at or point to the projected slides. Don’t do this! Your presentation should not need those slides. Like the image hovering next to the television newscaster, those slides are there as an aid to strengthen the story you are telling. They are not the story that you are annotating.

Why is this so important?

First, every presentation room is different, and thus if you get in the habit of pointing to the slides, you will have issues when the screen is above your head or off to one side or duplicated on two sides of the room, etc.

Second, when you turn to point to the screen, you are now talking to the screen, not the audience. In many rooms, the audience can no longer hear you. In all rooms, you are no longer making eye contact with the audience. In non-verbal terms, you have left the conversation. In sales terms, you are now selling to the screen, and the screen ain’t ever going to say “yes.”

You should practice your presentation sufficiently so that you do not need to see the slides. If the pitch is new and you need to see which slide is visible, take the time to position your computer so that the slides are visible to you while you are looking at the audience, without you having to turn around.


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