Attendees at my pubic speaking trainings often say that they have taken “similar” courses on presentations by the big-name companies, and that my techniques are more thorough and insightful. This is because we all cover the same basics, but I also add a plethora of techniques that I developed as a professional sleight-of-hand performer. I learned far more about effective presenting in the entertainment industry than I did in the corporate arena.
I’ll share with you one major discovery I uncovered through magic. In my circle of professional magicians, we often discuss what is the “best” trick for an audience. At a show, I might throw your signed card through a window, bend your signed coin in your own hand, and turn singles into hundred dollar bills. Solid magic. My peers accomplish similar effects. We unanimously agree on what impresses an audience the most, and it’s a trick YOU can do… remember their names.
Clearly, this “trick” has limitations. It is unlikely to work with a full auditorium, but it is quite effective at meetings and classroom-size presentations. If you can remember the names of your audience members and use those names through your presentation and Q&A, you are golden. I have already written about some great strategies to remembering names here but I want to include a new technique I’ve been using that makes it even easier.
When you arrive early, you have an opportunity to meet attendees as they trickle in. My secret is upon introduction, I create a visual that I associate with the person’s name. Here are some examples:
Mike: I will visualize him talking into a mic while we chat.
Sarah: Piece of cake on her shoulder (Sara Lee brand of course)
Bob: Apple (corny but it works for me)
You can make these up on the spot. Some will only make sense to you. Burn that image into your mind so when you see them a bit later, you have your memory hook that enables you to recall their name. It works like a charm. When you are done with your presentation and Q&A be prepared to have many people remark, “you are amazing. How do you remember all of our names?” You might want to send them a link to this blog.