Learn more about helping your presentation audience overcome their fear by exploring the multimedia version of Resonate by Nancy Duarte.

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People experience a sense of fear when they embark on a journey that involves change, because change has an element of the unknown. That is what makes it so frightening.

Change is about accepting the new and abandoning the old. New societies cannot rise unless old societies fall. If new technology emerges, it renders the old technology obsolete. In the presentation space, accepting something new often means sacrificing something held dear.

Sacrifice is defined as the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim. Often, your audience can’t change without making a sacrifice. You need to make them understand that without sacrifice, there can be no reward.

To adopt your perspective, the audience has to, at a minimum, abandon what they previously held as true.

Changing their minds is like asking them to forsake an old friend who has stood by them for a long time. Losing an old friend is painful.

Even something seemingly trivial—like a forfeit of their time—might require them to risk something. Working late might mean missing volleyball practice or the chance to tuck their kids into bed at night. Be cognizant of the sacrifice the audience will make when you ask them to do something, because you’re asking them to give up a small—but still irretrievable —slice of their lives.

Audience resistance is usually related to the sacrifice they realize they will have to make. Presentations disrupt the audience’s contented stance. Perhaps they’ll have to give up time or money. You’re telling them they will be better off if they buy your product, or become more productive, or join a movement, but they think everything is okay the way it is.

Change requires a breaking down before there’s a building up, and this is where the audience needs the encouragement from the mentor most of all.

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