Every Element in Your Presentation Has a Single Purpose…

…to make a change happen.

A presentation is a precious opportunity. It’s a powerful arrangement…one speaker, an attentive audience, all in their seats, all paying attention (at least at first).   – Seth Godin

Don’t waste it.

courtesy of Justin S. Campbell

courtesy of Justin S. Campbell

The purpose of a presentation is to change minds.

  • If all you’re hoping to do is survive the ordeal because of lack of preparation, you’re wasting people’s time.
  • If all you’re hoping to do is amuse and delight the crowd, you’re simply an entertainer.
  • If all you’re hoping to do is pass along information, put it in a document and email it to your audience.

But if you really want to make a change, to move from informing someone to influencing them, ask yourself these two questions:

  • Who will be changed by this presentation?
  • What is the change I seek?

The answers can range from simple to subtle to dramatic.

Once you have the answers, though, dive into it with all you’ve got.

Every element of your presentation – the room, the attendees, the length, the tone, any visual elements, the technology – exists for just one reason: to make it more likely that you will achieve the change you seek. If an element doesn’t do that, replace it with something that does, or throw it out.

If you fail to make a change, you’ve failed. If you do make change, you’ve opened the possibility you’ll be responsible for a bad decision or part of a project that doesn’t work. No wonder it’s frightening and far easier to just do a lousy presentation.   – Seth Godin

A presentation isn’t an obligation – it’s a privilege.

inspired by Seth Godin, Bert Decker, Garr Reynolds, Nancy Duarte, and Andy Stanley


The Motivating Process

All communication is selling. People buy on emotion and justify with fact.

– Bert Decker, You’ve Got to be Believed to be Heard

This week I’ve been recapping a section of Bert Decker’s great book on communication, “You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard.” He has created the following chart that shows the path from information to influence.

The end result of the process displayed above (and described in blog posts herehere and here) is that your communication will move from information to influence. You will be able to more effectively persuade your listeners, not just by the power of your person, but by the power of your presentation as well.

As leaders, we often think that if we say words, people will get them. That is not necessarily true. They might get the words and our message if we are enthused and confident – but not if we’re nervous and we block our message by inappropriate behavioral habits.

In the matrix depicted above, your communications reach their maximum effectiveness when they are in the active and emotion quadrant. In Decker’s words, you have moved from merely providing information to a place where you are influencing the listener. You have created a climate for motivation.

John Maxwell has a famous definition of leadership: “Leadership is influence.”

If you believe that, then what are you doing today to make your communications move from information to influence?

The Involving Process, The Memorable Process

Author and communication expert Bert Decker has developed a matrix that shows how to move your communications from information to influence. A previous post was about the educational process; today  a look at the next two quadrants of his matrix: the Involving Process and the Memorable Process.

The Involving Process

To move people from passive to active, there are many options. One of the most important is to convey our energy and enthusiasm, which resonates in the listener. It’s hard to be passive when someone is excited, but it’s easy when someone is uninteresting, low on energy, and monotonous.

There are several things you can do that deal more with content and process. You can ask questions, getting people to think. You can do interactive exercises, or take people through simulated exercise or though processes. How about fill-in-the-blanks in handouts? However you can, get people involved, and move them from passive to active by interacting with them.

The Memorable Process

Moving people from the intellectual to the emotional realm is more difficult. This idea is not about ignoring the intellectual or reasoning processes in the listener, but adding the emotional dimension to your content. This is not something that is taught to us, but it is a very powerful mindset that you can learn quickly and use continuously.

Emotional perspective comes from the energy of our behavior, of course, but it can also be applied in our content. We want to become memorable by using techniques and methods that get us out of the dry and didactic world of facts and figures. We want to use our creativity, to become storytellers and interesting visualizers, to move deeper into the world of ideation and metaphor.

Decker’s book is entitled “You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard.” It’s a great resource for anyone who speaks before a group of people – from 5 to 500. My focus (which ends tomorrow) has only been on one section – From Information to Influence.  There are four other sections that will help you create, organize, and then deliver – powerfully – your message.

Tomorrow: The Motivating Result

The Educational Process

Author and communicator Bert Decker developed a chart that illustrates the path from information to influence. In developing it, he starts with a typical four-quadrant diagram, and then expands it one further step, finally adding a diagonal path.

Step one of the path from information to influence starts with the educational process.

Starting in kindergarten and continuing through college into graduate school, we are mostly taught passively. Basically we sit in chairs and teachers lecture at us. They appeal to our intellect, our cognitive side.

That is our educational system, and it continues into business and into life. It is the world of information. It is on the Passive and Intellectual side of Decker’s chart, Create Your Experience.

Take a journey back to high school or college, and remember your favorite teacher. It probably wasn’t the teacher with the longest tenure, or who was most published, or who had the most degrees. It was probably the person who was the most excited about the subject – and that enthusiasm was contagious.

You caught it, and because of that they influenced you to “get” the information and knowledge.

The journey from information to influence has to start with the Educational Process, but there has to be movement: from passive to active, and from the intellectual to the emotional mental states.

Tomorrow: the Involving Process.

From Information to Influence

Jack Ryan, the historian-CIA-politician hero from author Tom Clancy’s fiction writings of the 1990s is always good for a quote:

Next time Jack, write a #@$!! memo!

He muttered this to himself as he was being lowered in a raging storm from a helicopter to a submarine, on the way to averting WWIII. His research led to an astounding discovery, but it was his willingness in presenting the information first-hand that led to the quote above. It may make for good summertime reading and an action movie, but there is actually an instructive lesson in it for anyone who seeks to become a better communicator.

The written medium is a cognitive, linear, literal, and didactic process that’s great for transferring information.

Speaking is the medium of action and influence. In speaking, we create an experience where people get us and our message together – and the two are inseparable. In speaking, we use information to influence. The power is in the presentation.

The two previous paragraphs come from Bert Decker’s book “You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard.” Whenever I’m working on major presentations I always find myself coming back for a refresher course.

This week I’ll be posting excerpts from this book along with observations for ChurchWorld.