Earlier this month, President Barack Obama spoke to the graduates at my alma mater, Rutgers University.
His political, yet powerful speech was packed with lessons we can apply for our next presentations to a group or audience.
1. Paint an image of the future
Allowing an audience to visualize the future and how they fit into it is one of the best ways to engage them. President Obama stated, “…don’t lose hope if sometimes you hit a roadblock. Don’t lose hope in the face of naysayers. And certainly don’t let resistance make you cynical. Cynicism is so easy, and cynics don’t accomplish much. As a friend of mine who happens to be from New Jersey, a guy named Bruce Springsteen, once sang- ‘they spend their lives waiting for a moment that just don’t come.’ Don’t let that be you. Don’t waste your time waiting.”
2. Personalize the message to the audience
President Obama clearly did his research about this audience, which made his comments feel personalized and humorous. This was evident when he said, “… I’m here, off Exit 9, on the banks of the Old Raritan–at the site of one of the original nine colonial colleges. Winners of the first-ever college football game. One of the newest members of the Big Ten. Home of what I understand to be a Grease Truck for a Fat Sandwich. Mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers on your cheese-steaks. I’m sure Michelle would approve.”
3. Leave them with a powerful ending
There is nothing more powerful, than a strong ending that gets your audience fired up to make a personal change. Obama left them with, “… Class of 2016, it’s your turn now–to shape our nation’s destiny, as well as your own. So get to work. Make sure the next 250 years are better than the last.”
Apply one or all three of these in your next presentation and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.