3 Ways to Ensure Your Presentation Has a Clear Purpose
“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.” – Jim Rohn
The first book I bought when I became interested in public speaking a number of decades ago was, “Power Speak’” by Dorothy Leeds. The book, which is still in print, covers all facets of public speaking from overcoming the 6 major speaking faults to conquering trouble spots in your presentations to mastering the fine points of powerful speaking. Make sure it is on your bookshelf. Read it.
This week, I will be cover how to overcome one of the 6 major speaking faults to covering trouble spots – Unclear Purpose from “Power Speak.” What follows is (1) how to determine your presentation purpose, (2) six main purposes of presentations, and (3) not letting your subject get too broad.
What follows is from “Power Speak.” I may move around some of the words, but the essential information is from this book.
How to Determine Your Purpose
When you are establishing the purpose of your presentation, always start with the audience in mind. Begin by asking two questions, “What do I want to accomplish in the minds of those in my audience? What do I want them to do, feel, or know?
Knowing clearly how you want the members of your audience to feel will affect the mood of your presentation, your choice of examples and stories, and how you build your argument: Every element is influenced by the effect of your overall purpose.
It can be surprisingly tough to set down a clear-cut statement of your purpose. The confusion of what is your purpose can stem from you attempting to convey too much, to make sure your audience gets all the facts. If your presentation is overloaded with facts, you may not be able to get back to your original message.
Your presentation’s purpose should be so clear that no one is left in doubt as to what your purpose is. When your purpose is defined at the outset, you can make sure all that follows supports your aims and that no one ends up wondering what point you were trying to get across.
So, determining the purpose of your presentation is the first step. Did you know there are six main purposes of presentations? Here they are.
Six Main Purposes of Presentations
Most presentation fit into one of the six categories in the list that follows. Each requires a different tone, different types of stories, different examples, even a different choice of words.
1. To Inform. When the purpose of your presentation is to inform, you are simply attempting to convey information that your audience needs. The information might be the new promotion system for your company or the reorganization of your customer or even the chances the next asteroid will hit the earth. This kind of speech is usually fairly short and to the point and concentrates on the facts of the situation.
2. To Instruct. When the purpose of your presentation is to instruct, you are still conveying information to your audience, but you are also teaching them to take action in some way. This action could be to teach them how to fill out the forms for the company’s new insurance policy, how to use the company’s new time charging system, or how to use the company’s current airline reservation system. The point is not only are you conveying information, but you are also teaching your audience to take action.
3. To Entertain. Unless you are a real entertainer, you probably will not make presentations solely to entertain. However, you can always deliver your presentation in an entertaining way. Audiences that are entertained enjoy your presentation more, retain more of your presentation, and, most importantly, take action on the information in your presentation,
4. To Inspire/Motivate. There are many ways to inspire and motivate people. Some people talk about a hardship they have overcome like cancer remission, the death of a spouse, or a debilitating physical challenge. However, motivating presentations do not solely concentrate on hardship. Martin Luther King inspired us to “be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.” Susan B. Anthony inspired millions to fight for women’s right to vote. Abraham Lincoln inspired us in his second inaugural address to have “malice toward none.”
5. To Activate/Stimulate. The purpose of your presentation could be to activate or stimulate your audience to take an action. The specific purpose of your presentation could be to stimulate your audience to donate to a worthy cause. It could also be to activate your company’s employees to “go the extra mile” with their customers. It could also be to vote for a referendum on the ballot.
6. To Persuade. If the purpose of your presentation is to persuade, you would be using logic, evidence and emotion to align your audience with your position. Some examples of this purpose are to persuade your audience to vote for your candidate, attend a town council meeting considering relaxing criminal sentencing laws, or to periodically join their neighbors to clean up ponds and streams in the local area.
So, you now know how to determine your presentation’s purpose and the six purpose categories. Let’s now look at why you shouldn’t let your presentation subject get too broad.
Don’t Let Your Subject Get Too Broad
When the purpose gets too broad, it gets confused with the subject. Keep these two separate and you’re well on your way to focusing your presentation. You may be asked to speak on “Weapons of War in the 20 th Century.” A topic like this is just a broad subject; your purpose is to make a specific point about 20 th Century weapons – maybe even a specific weapon system category – through examples, anecdotes, and various facts. So, tackle some key “trees,” not the whole “forest.”
The more focused and specific your presentation, the better your changes some words will resonate. Speak vividly about the leadership of one person, and your audience can glean much about leadership in general. Let people make the leap from the specific to the general, while you continue to be vivid. Broad subjects can become wonderful presentations if you give them a narrow, and, therefore memorable purpose and focus.
So, you have learned how to determine the purpose of your presentation, the six main purposes of your presentations and how to limit your subject to a manageable size.
Clear purpose in your presentations is an absolute must if you want your audience to get the full impact of your presentation.
If you don’t have a clear purpose, you will be like Alice asking the Cheshire Cat which fork in the road she should take when she does not know where she is wants to go.
Don’t be like Alice!
“Make sure that you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening!” – Dorothy Sarnoff
DiBartolomeo Consulting International’s (DCI) mission is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence. Contact DCI at firstname.lastname@example.org or Office – (703) 815-1324 Cell/Text – (703) 509-4424