Preparing Your Content: Revisiting Your Goals
To determine what you are going to say in your presentation's main body, it’s a good idea to revisit your goals for the presentation. Are you informing or persuading? What is it that you want to accomplish? What do you want the audience to remember, and what do you want them to do when they leave the room?
For every presentation you create, you want to determine where you are on the continuum between pure informing and pure persuading. We are almost always somewhere in the middle. That determination will guide you in deciding what to include in your presentation.
Let’s look at some examples of topics that might fall at various points along the continuum.
Purely or Mostly Informing
Presentations in which you are purely informing could be scientific presentations in which you report out data from an experiment or presentations about policies and procedures and how they will be implemented.
Purely or Mostly Persuading
The classic example of a persuasive presentation is any sales pitch, but especially the sales pitch of a used car salesman. The implication is that a used car salesman is not going to include too much information or “fact” because he might be trying to sell you a vehicle that is not reliable or roadworthy. His pitch is mostly going to consist of persuasive arguments designed to convince you to buy the car.
As I’ve mentioned, most presentations are a mix of informing and persuading. You will land somewhere along the middle of the continuum, but more toward the informing end or more toward the persuading end, depending on your goals.
For example, you may use data to persuade your audience to take a specific course of action, or you may report on the results of a project to convince the powers that be to give you more resources to continue the project.
When you need to give a presentation, get in the habit of thinking about your goal for the presentation to inform or persuade and determine where you want to be on the continuum.