Tip for improving your presentations with lessons from Digital UX

By Dan Magill, Toastmasters International

Digital UX is the experience users have when interacting with businesses or organisations in the digital world – via their website, mobile site, app and social network platforms.

What does this have to do with presentations and public speaking?  It’s relevant because the way an audience feels about a presentation or speech is very similar to their feelings about an online interaction.  

As with a digital interaction a presentation will go down well with audience members if:

  • They weren’t led down any blind alleys
  • They didn’t find any of the language difficult to understand
  • Everything was clear, intuitive and linear
  • They felt the business was trying to help them – not simply getting them to do what the business wanted

Given this let me share some ideas to help you give the best presentations you can to support your business.

Preparing your speech

Most experts say that when delivering a speech there is nothing more important than the audience.  I completely agree with this.  However, we need to be a little selfish and decide exactly what it is that we want to achieve first.

An online business might focus their attention on creating a world-class customer experience, but you can bet they’ll work out what the required outcome is for themselves first.

Before you start writing, think about your desired outcome. For example, do you want your audience to purchase a product or service off the back of your presentation?

After this, everything else you do should have the audience experience at heart. Let’s call it, AX; audience experience.

Avoid blind alleys

Now that you have a clear focus on what you want to achieve, you need to ensure that every word in your speech is geared toward that target.

When you’ve finished writing, go back through and identify any areas which feel like they go off on a tangent or don’t contribute to taking the audience exactly where you want them to go.

This doesn’t mean taking out humorous asides or anecdotes which you feel enhance your speech. But if there’s anything in there that could lead the audience down a blind alley and confuse them, remove it.

Make it easy to follow

When you’re writing a speech, it can be easy to start using elaborate language, long fancy words and complicated sentence structures. Imagine how intelligent it will make you look.

However, you audience would far rather listen to a speech filled with simple language and short sentences.

This isn’t a case of ‘dumbing down’ your speech. It’s simply that the clearer the language we use, the more like an everyday conversation your speech will be. And, that’s what audiences find most engaging.

Focus on clarity, comprehension and chronology

When writing your speech, or at least when editing it later, always put yourself in the position of an average audience member.

Are there any points at which they could become confused with what you’re saying? If you take something out at the start of the speech, could that have a knock-on effect on something you still have in at the end of the speech?

Keep a tight focus on the clarity, comprehension and chronology of your speech.

Offer help

You’ve identified what you want to achieve from your speech but now you must place the entire focus on how you can best serve the audience, whilst remaining in pursuit of your desired outcome.

If you’re selling a product, service, idea or experience, the audience doesn’t want just to sit and listen to you telling them how great it is – they want to know what it can do for them.

Of course, you may want to relate a personal story or experience in a speech, but you must remember always to come back to how this will benefit your audience members.

Imagine if you went online to book a business trip and the website said things like:

“Buy this expensive item to help us meet our annual business target.”

“Book this hotel as we put a lot of business their way.”

If you are clear on your objectives and treat your audience with respect the lessons from Digital UX your listeners will get an enjoyable and valuable AX.


Dan Magill is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org

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