Inspire - Not Preach

Posted by Corey Smith on Jul 9, 2012 2:46:00 PM


When it is time to present something to an audience, do you find yourself teaching them or preaching to them? It is very hard, sometimes, to draw the distinction, but here is a little unasked for advice.

  • If you are talking more than you are asking for input, you are preaching.
  • If your audience isn't taking very many notes or aren't even nodding their heads, you are preaching.
  • If you are having a hard time getting audience response, you are preaching
  • If you rely on a PowerPoint presentation too much, you are preaching.

I have endured countless presentations where there is no discussion, no interaction, no fun. How can anyone survive in business today without understanding the simple dos and don'ts of a simple presentation?

Imagine if you could pattern your speaking style after a great preacher? Think about what that do and say to inspire? How many slides does their PowerPoint deck have?

So, to help a little, here are six key points to look at when presenting:

  1. If you use PowerPoint, it should be simple and to the point. Too much text that people have to read or too many lines and drawings cause for people to have to think too much about what you are trying to say.
  2. Don't read, be impassioned. If something requires a reading, have it memorized. If teaching a small class, give a handout and have someone from the class read it for you. People don't want to watch you read your words.
  3. Make it applicable to the audience. Remember who you are talking to. Don't give technical jargon to people that don't understand or care about. Don't make a sales pitch when you are trying to teach a principle.
  4. Make it credible. If you use facts, use references. If you quote someone, don't pretend that you came up with the idea. People will respect you more if they know that you researched it and not wondering if you just made it all up.
  5. Be enthusiastic. Nobody wants to listen to someone who doesn't appear to care about what he is speaking. If you aren't excited, your audience will know.
  6. Above all, get involved with the audience. Engage them in discussion. Ask questions. Invite humor (as long as it is on track with the conversation). Don't get too uptight.

The best teachers in the world are those that help students learn for themselves... they don't give the students all the answers. The best teachers encourage self-reflection and thought. They allow the audience to draw inferences and conclusions and then encourage them to act on those thoughts.

As an exercise, take some time to analyze presentations you watch. Look at the presentations and figure out what you like and what you don't like. Then practice the behaviors you find most appealing.

Corey Smith

Written by Corey Smith

Corey Smith is the founder of Tribute Media and serves as the Digital Marketing Strategist. He is also the author of "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter."

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