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Addressing Needs: Maslow’s Motivational Theory for Presenters

Ads are everywhere. The average person is exposed to hundreds of advertisements every day, be it television or radio commercials, billboards, transportation or social media platforms.

However, only a few of them capture our attention. We only remember appealing and interesting ones.

Human need is the main reason why advertisers continuously introduce products to convince consumers to make buying decisions. In turn, this need motivates us to act towards a desired goal.

Since people are longing for things that benefit them, they constantly search for whatever satisfies their unmet needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Harold Maslow is an American Psychologist who introduced Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in 1943, a theory which illustrates the five stages of human needs: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Self-actualization lies at the top of the pyramid as humanity’s most advanced need. However, to reach it, one must fulfill the pyramid’s first four levels. This pyramid doesn’t only apply to general human needs. Various authors and presenters, like Deanna Sellnow, have theorized on its possible use in presentations.

To successfully engage and motivate your listeners, use Maslow’s Motivational Theory with your business or sales presentations. Focus on how your topic benefits your audience. Remember, it’s all about meeting their needs.

Understand your audience’s current situation before getting their attention to make them interested in your discussion. Once you make them believe that your proposal will help them, they’ll see a need to take action.

First Level: Physiological Needs

This phase concerns basic human needs: food, water, air, sleep, etc.

Analyze your audience before crafting your pitch so you’ll know what to include in your presentation. How will you relate your topic to your audience’s concern?

If your client has a problem related to budget, you can offer cost-effective strategies to address their concerns.

Second Level: Safety Needs

This level talks about your audience’s need for security, health, shelter, resources, etc.

Let them know that their safety and comfort are your top priorities. Use personal stories that show you understand what they’re going through, and reassure them that everything will be all right.

Third Level: Love and Belonging

Since people reject loneliness or exclusion, they constantly look for acceptance and approval.

Encourage your audience to form a small group after giving your presentation. Doing so lets them know their colleagues and to share each other’s ideas about the topic, making them feel involved.

Fourth Level: Esteem

This level involves the need for appreciation and self-respect. People want to feel that they’re valued because it boosts their self-esteem.

To satisfy this need, acknowledge their presence and show them how thankful you are for their time. Do this from time to time during your presentation to make them feel important.

Fifth Level: Self-Actualization

Motivate people by challenging them to take possible action. This feeds on their need to show that they’re capable of accomplishments.

End with a powerful call-to-action slide and statement to convince them that you believe in their potentials.


These five levels motivate your audience to learn from your presentation. Think about how your topic relates to your audience’s concerns to guide you when you start crafting your pitch. This gives you an idea how to meet their needs.

Knowing how to satisfy their physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization needs let you effectively interact with your audience. If they feel like you care about them, then they’ll care about you and what you have to say.

Successfully fulfilling each need encourages your audience to take action as they realize that they’re capable of achieving particular endeavors. This becomes your edge to producing a powerful and effective presentation.



4 Types of Audience Members You Need to Present For.” SlideGenius, Inc. Accessed June 25, 2015.
Motivating Listeners.” Boundless. Accessed June 25, 2015.
Presentation Tips: 5 Quick Steps to Audience Engagement.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 16, 2014. Accessed June 25, 2015.
Sellnow, Deanna D. Confident Public Speaking. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2005.

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