Most of us know the movie: Yoda mentors Luke by giving him guidance, insight and advice. Taking on that mindset in your next presentation will get you better results that just informing your audience of the new process, procedures or change.
In a recent training session on Preparing and Delivering Powerful Presentations, a participant told me that there was no purpose to his presentation other than to inform his audience about a new template that should be used by staff going forward.
“Steffen,” I said, “there must be a more actionable reason you are giving the presentation. Otherwise, you could just send an email with the slides attached.”
This is not the first time I have heard this, that the only reason for a presentation is to inform. And I don’t believe it.
I poked and prodded Steffen throughout the morning with specific questions, including my favourite question, “So what?”
Presenting to influence and affect change
As the session went on, and Steffen eventually came to the conclusion that there was in fact another reason for his presentation. His real purpose was to persuade the Country Managers to accept the new purchasing template and to champion its use within their local organizations.
Steffen explained that while using the new template was mandatory from a Global Purchasing perspective, it’s never easy to get staff in faraway places to take accept change. After all, the current template had been working just fine for years. And it would be another instance of headquarters unilaterally imposing a change on local organizations.
You could argue that the Country Managers should just accept the new template and pass on the facts to their staff. “Here it is, use it.” This may be enough to get achieve the desired result, but in practice doesn’t usually produce consistent results.
By going two steps further, and explaining why the new template is needed, and how it will positively impact not just the organization but the individuals using it, Steffen is more likely to achieve the desired result.
So what did this mean for Steffen as he redesigned his presentation? Steffen had to:
- Be crystal clear on his purpose and the result he wanted from the presentation.
- Understand the mindset of the Country Managers and anticipate their objections in advance;
- Anticipate and overcome the objections of the staff who would have to use the template even though they weren’t present;
- Explain why the new template was so important to the global organization (but this is not enough);
- Clearly describe the benefits of using the new template to the staff in faraway locations, which included clearer measures for bonus calculations;
- Give Country Managers the argumentation that they in turn needed to persuade their staff;
- Explicitly tell the Country Managers what action he wanted them to take.
How you can apply this to your next presentation
In every presentation you create, focus on the why: what are the benefits at every level: to the individual, the team and the organisation, at both local and global levels. Explain the impact of not taking the action. Your audience’s journey to success begins when they leave your presentation. Arm them with the tools, techniques and strategies they need to be successful, so they can continue to add value to the organization. Be Yoda.
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