by Paul LeRoux
General George Patton, leading U.S. Army general in World War II said, “No one is thinking if everyone is thinking alike.” WARNING – This article will contradict what most believe about speaking to a group.
The Setup Strategy
Today too many presenters march into a room accepting the standard drills: They turn off the lights. They stand with the screen to their right, and if a podium is available, they gladly hide behind it. Then they throw up slide after slide of verbiage. Common sense dictates that these actions diminish presentations. Yet, speakers continuously follow these and many more crippling presentation mistakes.
No presenter strolls into a room simply to dump information, not caring whether the viewers accept it or not.
The most important element of a presentation is the presenter—not the slides. If it were the slides, wouldn’t it be easier, less time consuming and more efficient to e-mail the viewers a report or the slides with the notes?
Presenters present for only one, critical reason—to persuade, to lead the group to some conclusion or to convince the listeners to side with the presenter’s beliefs. Presenters handicap themselves when they talk in the dark. Leave the lights on.
“Wait a minute,” speakers always rebut, “The lights will wash out my slides!” Not true. Try it. Life is often a compromise. Leaving the lights on is one of those vital compromises.
For presenters to succeed, the viewers must conclude that the presenter is sincere, honest, committed, a leader who can produce the action, the results or the benefits he or she promises. Viewers must connect emotionally.
It is a lot easier for viewers to make these key judgments by watching the presenter. In a darkened room, the presenter hides the best part of a presentation. Turn on the lights. Or dim them only slightly so that the presenter is amply visible.
As an American Indian proverb goes, “Move closer to the campfire so I can see your words.” With the lights on, you will be seen, heard and more likely believed.
In future columns, I’ll cover more detail on the setup strategy: Where to stand? Screen size. Eliminating pointers. Getting remotes and clickers out of your hands.
Look for related articles, too, such as:
- Convincing content: the most persuasive sequence.
- The right visuals: why sentences or bullet points are so wrong.
- Delivering persuasively: how to project believability, sincerity, honesty and confidence.
- Questions and answers: making sure you get questions, handling the tough ones and ending on a high note.
About the Author
Paul LeRoux spent 30 years specializing in rehearsing executives to win competitive presentations and preparing entrepreneurs to speak to venture capitalists. Obviously the winners succeeded by presenting themselves, their ideas, and their visuals differently and persuasively. Fortunately, the competition all thought alike.
Paul can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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