I nearly lost a client last week because we defined “presenting” differently. When I looked at the slides his team was using, I saw immediately how the disorganized content, lack of a clear message, and weak headers were serious contributors to what he saw as his team’s weak presentation skills. When I pointed these out to him, he said, “No! No! Leave the content alone. Just fix their presentation skills!” Which raises the question: What really constitutes successful “presenting?”
Presenting vs. Communicating
Of the seven definitions in the dictionary for “present”, nearly all involve a single act: to present something or someone (one’s card, a bill for lunch, a person, a play, oneself, a result). Influencing the receiver of these items or people is not part of the definition.
It’s like the waiter in a restaurant who serves your meal on a covered plate, then removes the cover and says” Voila! He is hoping you will like what you see.
Hope is not a good presentation strategy.
The definitions for “communicate” are quite different. They all suggest a transfer process: to get someone to understand your thoughts or feelings, to transmit information, thought, or feeling so that it is satisfactorily received or understood.
It is the waiter who not only tells you what the special of the day is, but who then describes to you why you will like it so you see the value of ordering it.
Showing your slides, explaining what is on them is “presenting,” but is not by itself “communicating.”
Communicating happens when the speaker
- Understands how people process information, and
- Knows how to turn that information into a story or argument that resonates with a listener
That means having a structure to your content that engages, a clear message, knowing how to make points relevant and interesting to your listener, involving the listener, simplifying complexity, and creating momentum for action.
Happily, with some examples and good “communication” on my part, my client saw the light and we worked on the core communication issues first so that his team could then “present” their information in a persuasive manner.
Voila! or Value?
Do you present or communicate?
Words Matter -- Make What You Say Pay!
Speaking of value and communicating a complex topic in an easily understood manner, business pal Christopher Poch has an excellent book out on managing wealth. You needn’t be a multi- Financial security is everyone’s concern. You needn’t be a multi-millionaire to benefit from his advice. Check it out at Amazon. Managing Your Wealth by Christopher F. Poch (All proceeds go to charity.)
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"Anne and I recently worked together on a speech I gave at a large conference. She helped me turn a series of somewhat interesting points into an expertly crafted, compelling and actionable story. Together, we built a storyline with attention-grabbing headlines. We worked and re-worked the language, making sure every word was important. Finally, Anne coached me on the delivery. The result was so exciting - I've never been so well received in a speech before. Thank you, Anne!" Kate Griffin, Vice President, CFED.org
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