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Understanding the Empathetic Presentation Style

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Empathy is one of the most important interpersonal skills that also goes a long way for establishing your emotional intelligence. As such, it’s no wonder many presenters give the empathetic presentation style a try at some point. Today, we’ll tell you more about this presentation style, including how to do it and other important information you need to know. 

What is the Empathetic Presentation Style?

First, let’s start with a basic definition of empathy to ensure we’re all on the same page:

“the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

Now, let’s apply that definition to presentation styles. If you incorporate empathy into your presentation strategy, you’re capitalizing on the emotions and feelings of your audience. This isn’t to say you’re exploiting or taking advantage of these emotions. Rather, you’re playing to the emotions (as well as the challenges and triumphs) of your audience to create a lasting impression on them. 

Tips for Mastering the Empathetic Presentation Style

This presentation style isn’t right for every setting. However, you’ll often see it used in philanthropic, teaching, or faith-based settings. But anytime you want to build trust and rapport with your audience, this presentation style is worth considering! Want to try it for yourself? Here are some tips to help you master it. 

Storytelling focus

One of the fundamentals of the empathetic presentation style is focusing on storytelling rather than cold, hard facts. For example, instead of displaying a graph for your audience to take in, you’ll tell them a story that essentially relays the same information the graph would. 

This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for graphs and data in an empathetic presentation—it just means it isn’t the focus! For that reason, it’s best to start off with a story, and weave data and facts throughout.

Don’t rely on numbers and figures to tell a story when you, the presenter, can tell one with emotion and feeling behind it!

Steer clear of lecturing

Just like there’s a time and place for presentations built arounds facts and figures, there’s also a time and place for presentations that read like lectures. But with the empathetic presentation style, it’s best to steer clear of lecturing your audience. Rather than helping your presentation build trust and rapport with your audience, a lecture creates more of a teacher/student dynamic. 

But here’s the cool thing: even if you’re not lecturing an audience, you can still “teach” them something! You’re just teaching them in a style that’s more conducive to establishing trust and a bond between audience/presenter. 

(The dreaded awkward silence! Even the most seasoned presenters have experienced this at some point. Here’s how to handle them like a pro)

Ditch your cue cards

A surefire way to make a presentation feel more like a lecture than anything else is strictly reading off of cue cards. If you’re giving the empathetic presentation style a try, you’ll serve yourself best by speaking from the heart (and memory!) rather than reading off of cue cards. 

This creates more of a conversational dynamic than a lecture which is a key element of the empathetic presentation style.

Involve your audience

This tip applies to most presentation styles: involve your audience at some point(s) to create an interactive element. This will keep their attention on the presentation while also making it a more engaging, memorable presentation to begin with. 

Here are some strategies you can use for involving your audience in an empathetic presentation:

  • Conducting a Q&A
  • Running a live poll
  • Creating a word cloud with your audience

(Struggling to engage a live audience? Don’t miss this post next that’s packed with tips for keeping their focus on the presentation!)

Know your audience

To establish a bond and build trust with your audience, it’s important to know more about them. For example, having an understanding of their pain points or challenges gives you a chance to speak directly to these things during your presentation. This helps them feel as though you’re speaking directly to them, and also helps establish that you do, in fact, know or relate to how they feel. 

There you have it! Several strategies for giving the empathetic presentation style a try. Let us know how it works for you!

Did you like reading about the empathetic presentation style?

Here are three more posts you won’t want to miss next:

 

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