Yoda has immeasurable knowledge and wisdom. After all, he has trained Jedi knights for 800 years. However, he does not constantly boast about his own achievements or skills. His focus is not on himself despite being the expert. Rather, he is keen on helping young Luke Skywalker transform into a better hero.
This role of hero and mentor is a prehistoric archetype that you will find in almost every story because it speaks to us on a more profound level. The hero is the predominant character who performs the heroic deeds that drive the story. The mentor plays a vital, but secondary role as trusted advisor and guide.
Below you will find three ways to be more like Yoda during your next presentation.
1. Be the Mentor
The most common mistake I have noticed in listening to many presentations is that some presenters are all about self-promotion. They assume they are the stars of the show because they are elevated on the stage and in the spotlight.
However, that is not the case. You, as the speaker, are not the most important person in the room. Being on a stage or in front of a crowd does not make you the savior everyone has been waiting for. This applies whether you are speaking at a conference of ten thousand or holding a team meeting with only three people. Identify yourself as Yoda, not as Luke.
The most important people in the room are your audience members. Make them the heroes of your story. Defer to them. The fact is, if they do not participate and adopt your message, you will be the one who loses. Without their help, your big idea will fail. Become the mentor in their story. Guide them. Empower them to be the agents of change and achieve excellence.
2. Shift Your Perspective
Me. Me. Me. That is what most presenters tend to think. Somewhere in the front of the slide deck is the dreaded “About Us” slide that predictably states the company information, history, and accomplishments. Sure, it is important that the audience knows something about you and your company. However, there are other ways to share this information, such as a handout.
Sales people understand that customers care about product features only when they are directly connected to well-defined and captivating benefits. The same holds true for presentations. Therefore, focus the conversation on the audience. What are the benefits for them?
Empathize with the challenges they are facing and make the solution about them, not you. Become audience-centric and concentrate on your listeners to resonate at their frequency rather than yours.
Remember that your audience is all you have got. They are the ones who have to go out and put your ideas into practice. Embody the servant leader model and empower your champions to go higher by standing on your shoulders.
3. Give a Magical Gift
Mentors often give heroes a magical or precious gift. For example, a tool, talisman, or a weapon to assist them on their quest.
Brainstorm various ways to methodically transform your audience in a meaningful way. The best gifts given by mentors have a special significance to the hero. Hence, make it something useful, preferably out-of the-ordinary and memorable. Perhaps you can offer genuinely helpful charts, checklists, sample budgets, white papers, diagrams, a PDF of a chapter in your book or a great app.
Is there a physical gift you can give, that is not the clichéd logo-on-a-mug?
Why not offer a unique experience? For example, a special tour of a restricted facility, meeting an industry celebrity, or a test drive of a cool new product no one else has seen?
Be intentional about giving your audience something of tangible value to them. Make sure they do not leave empty-handed but rather, with a gift from you – their mentor.
When you step into the room to deliver your presentation, you may be the most knowledgeable person in the room. However, will you wield that knowledge with wisdom and humility? Presentations are not to be viewed as an opportunity to prove how brilliant you are. Rather, they are an opportunity to become the mentor, make your audience the hero and give them a magical gift.
It is an opportunity to leave the audience saying, “Wow, it was a real gift to spend time in that presentation with (insert your name here). I am now equipped with insights and tools to help me succeed.”
People will receive your message and be transformed by it — and you will not even need the Force. Master Yoda will be proud!