Egocentric? Self-centered? Most interested in solving their own problems or addressing their own issues? That's an audience, most of the time. Whether attending your presentation of their own volition, in response to a mandate, or in fulfillment of a responsibility, a primary question in the minds of your listeners is, "What's in it for me?"
And that's not a bad thing or really even a selfish stance. WIIFM is a natural question, one whose answer motivates us to attend a party because it promises lively conversation and delectable food or stay home because of a dreary guest list and refreshments usually uninspired. It's a helpful question and to a great extent an ever-present one, one that daily helps us make choices, assess situations, weigh risks against benefits, take actions.
As the primary wavelength of listeners, WIIFM is an audience need you must meet.
KNOW AUDIENCE COMPOSITION & DRIVERS
Identify who your listeners are and, based on that identification, what they are likely hoping to get from your presentation. Inspiration? Validation or recognition that their efforts played a large part in the company's successful year? Information regarding a new initiative? Instruction on a new process? Are they hoping to gain innovative ideas or alternate perspectives? Reasons to act or to accept an action or perhaps to reject one? Simple satisfaction or relief at having completed a corporate or educational requirement?
Link their "what," their purpose, to your own. Incorporate and align it so that the elements of your presentation address their probable needs.
ANSWER EARLY AND THROUGHOUT
Don't wait until the closing to tell listeners what's in it for them. Instead, craft your opening in a way that shows within the first minutes why they should care. Beginning with stories and examples that reflect audience experience can be especially helpful. So can startling statistics or facts that relate directly to both their and your purpose as well as your message.
Hold on to that answer as you proceed. Remain aware of WIIFM by tipping the balance of your rhetorical strategy toward the one that allows you to best explain and illustrate what's in it for them. And as you conclude, circle back to your beginning to reinforce and complete your initial connection to audience needs.
Establishing and maintaining a connection with your audience involves its members, an involvement crucial to an effective presentation. In a very real way, your presentation is about your audience, not about you, no matter what the message. If you fail to engage, your message won't much matter.
You can initiate that connection and then sustain it in several ways. One is through an animated delivery; few things alienate an audience more surely than a dull, flat, monotonous delivery. Another is to provide analogies and examples based on the characteristics of your audience. Others? Eye focus and voice. And if you see that you are losing audience attention, adjust.
Give listeners a reason to listen. Get on their wavelength, that place on the dial that marks a person's ideas and way of thinking, especially as it affects their ability to communicate with others. When you go there, you'll find and achieve what's in it for you, too.