People are listening to the woman at the conference


From Harvard Business ReviewJosh Bersin recommends that you begin a presentation by outlining a problem that makes the audience uncomfortable; for example, recount a problem that they’re faced with.  The problem creates discomfort which is resolved through the presentation of your solution.  Josh writes:

When I was on the high school debate team in the 1970s, we studied the psychological concept of cognitive dissonance, and I’ve since used it to create thousands of speeches and inspirational talks. The idea behind it is very simple: If you want a group of people to adopt your point of view, start by describing some difficult or painful issue they’re faced with. Maybe it’s a problem they didn’t realize they had, or maybe it’s something they recognize as an ongoing challenge. Either way, you’re forcing them to hold two contradictory things in their minds at once: either what they already believe and what you’re telling them, or what they know and how they behave. That dissonance ratchets up their discomfort, which makes them want to fix it. From there, you move to your explanation of the problem, and then to your proposed solution, which will replace the dissonance with harmony.

That basic formula can work effectively whether you’re articulating a new strategy at a staff meeting, pitching a product to a customer, or bringing up an issue for discussion with your team. In all these situations, you are trying to explain your idea, sell it to the audience, and ask people to change their views or take some sort of action. As presentation expert Nancy Duarte has pointed out, you are essentially creating a story, one that sets up a problem, suggests a solution, tells the audience what they should do, and describes how they’ll be better off as a result.

Read the full story at Good Presentations Need to Make People Uncomfortable