I’ve talked already about how important it is that you ensure that your presentation or speech is relevant to your audience but what is equally important is that everything that you say is relevant to your message.
A few months ago I was lucky enough to listen to a very talented speaker give a great speech about involving young people in programs to help them improve their communication skills. He knew how to connect with the audience, he knew how to motivate an audience to take his message and make it real yet there were times when he distracted the audience from the message by moving off-topic.
He’d weaved humour into his speech to strengthen the connection with the audience yet it wasn’t about young people and their difficulties communicating, it wasn’t even about his own problems when he was young, instead it was about how he was single and looking for a girlfriend.
It wasn’t relevant to the topic and distracted from his message.
Another example was at a recent talk by a powerful speaker from the US, he spoke about his experience as a speaker and how it took a lot of practice and persistence to get him to such a high level. He captured the audience’s attention and kept it interesting, it was clear that he’d practiced and given that speech many times.
It was equally clear that he’d mainly given it to American audiences since he used stories and analogies about baseball and American culture that were not relevant or well-known to a European audience and while he was a great speaker, it was during these moments that he lost some of his connection with the audience.
Remember, when using jokes, stories or quotations, make sure that they are relevant to your message, don’t distract your audience, keep them solely focussed on what’s important, your message.