by Paul Omodt

Ever give a presentation to a room full of strangers and wonder what they were thinking?

Did they understand my points? Was my presentation style working for them? Was I connecting with them?

If you could read the mind of your audience and see the giant thought bubble above their heads, what would it look like?

I recently had the opportunity to find out and to see firsthand what images, thoughts, words and ideas made their way into the minds of my audience.

It was interesting, enlightening, and, frankly, just a tad scary.

You see, I gave a presentation on the value of effective media relations to a roomful of eager, early-career professionals and, simultaneously as I spoke, a talented illustrator brought my presentation to life through the eyes of my audience.

Tim Foss, the founder and CEO of More Belief, highlighted not only what I was presenting but also how my words looked and how my audience was reacting. As I spoke, he quickly drew vignettes from my presentation adding sprinkles of key words and phrases and what was resonating with the audience.

At first, Tim and his frenetic yet controlled animating was slightly intimidating. As I slyly glimpsed at him working away, I wondered: Why did he draw that? How did he miss that important point? How did I not make that important point clear enough?

As I moved through my presentation, my slight intimidation moved to a strange sense of new found energy to rise to the challenge and feel my audience more. To think about what they were hearing, feeling and seeing and make sure I was connecting with them on many levels.

Soon, I found myself thinking faster and like I was more on top of my game as a presenter and a connector. Like the cartoons being drawn, I felt animated and energized. I felt more of a need to think in simple, concrete terms and in ideas that could be easily put into images, themes and giant thought bubbles.

Having the ability to see the giant thought bubble of my audience tested my ideas of what was or wasn’t connecting. In essence, it was a real time test of the effectiveness of my presentation and my ability to connect.

It is said to really get to know someone, you need to walk a mile in their shoes. In this case, to get to know my audienceI needed to sit a while in their seats. By seeing my presentation from a different perspective, I could connect and relate to my audience better.

In the end, effective communications is about moving your audience to action, asking them to stop, start or continue something or consider a new point of view. By seeing my presentation through the thought bubble of my audience, I met the needs of my audience and became a better, stronger connector. Thank you to the talented illustrator who challenged me to really see my audience and myself in a new and fascinating way.

View my time-lapsed presentation on effective media relations, through the graphic recording artistry of Tim Foss of More Belief.

Paul Omodt serves on the board of IABC Minnesota as Vice President of Finance. He is the Owner and Principal of Omodt and Associates, Critical Communications. Images and video courtesy of Tim Foss and More Belief. To make your next presentation come to life, visit