The Business Professional vs. the Professor

Is there really a difference between the corporate world and the academic world? The answer is a definite, “yes.” The academic and corporate worlds often seem as different as night and day. Academics are questioning by nature, and they crave research—sometimes drilling down to the sub-atomic level. The corporate world, on the other hand, wants bigger, better, and faster-achieved goals, objectives, and results. Decisions are driven by metrics, and learning how to exceed your boss’s expectations are critical to success.

Can these two vastly different worlds of thought and motivation learn from one another? Absolutely. Despite what may seem like a great divide, connecting to an audience of corporate titans versus connecting to a group of eager college students isn’t all that different. Having experienced both worlds, a student and corporate titan both want to learn something they may not know when they walk into an auditorium or classroom.

Whether you’re presenting in a boardroom to Wall Street execs or in a classroom of college freshman, there are three things both of these groups have in common when it comes to having a successful presentation:

  1. The desire to be inspired. I have addressed this at length in my book—the result of successful speaking leaves those listening feeling persuaded, motivated, and inspired to act. This inspiration comes from passionate, emotion-filled messages that force people to listen and respond.
  2. The need to persuaded that your speech topic or your academic subject matter is important. This goes right along with number one—individuals, both executives and freshman paying for their education, want to know why what you’re speaking about is not only important, but important to them.
  3. The need to be provoked into a response or reaction that will help them think differently about something than they did before. When you sum one through three, it’s necessary to provide a strong call to action. In the academic sense, it may be as simple as homework to reinforce the lesson. To a corporate audience, it may be the need to significantly improve goals or benchmarks pertinent to their jobs.

I’ve touched on this before: no matter who is in the audience, they all want to learn something new that is relevant to them personally. Your goal is not only to compel your audience to listen, your goal is also to answer the question, “What do I want my audience to think, feel, or do, when this speech is over?” and, most importantly, achieve it.

Learn more techniques on how to engage any group of individuals in this article from Entrepreneur – 8 Tips on Giving a Presentation Like a Pro.

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