is the third in a seven-part series of articles on presentation
skills designed for persons who don't make or supplement their living
from professional speaking.
3 of 7: The Situation…
1 | Part
2 | Part
3 | Part
4 | Part
5 | Part
6 | Part
asked to make a presentation, the first thing that often runs through
the panic-stricken mind of the "unprofessional" speaker is, "What am
I going to say?" A more purposeful response is: "Why have I been asked
to give this presentation?" Therefore, the first step in the presentation
process, before a word has been put to paper, is to determine the purpose
of the presentation-it's goals and objectives.
the structure, content and style of the presentation will vary according
to the nature of the event. For example, wouldn't you agree that, if
you were asked to make a speech about an individual that was being honored,
the tone of the presentation would be dramatically different depending
on whether you were speaking at a retirement "roast" or a funeral?
presentations take one of three forms, as illustrated by Aristotle's
- the purpose is to inform or instruct, as one would as an instructional
course leader, and is based on thought processes.
- the purpose is to persuade or motivate to action, as would a politician,
clergyman or salesman, and is based on behavior modification.
- Pathos -
the purpose is to inspire, entertain or otherwise elicit feelings
and emotions, as would a motivational speaker or stand-up comic, and
is based on changing attitudes.
Keep in mind that
many, if not most, presentations incorporate more than one facet of
each of these "appeals." For example, Winston Churchill used both pathos
and logos, Zig Ziglar focuses on pathos and ethos, Brian Tracy on logos
and ethos, and so forth. Also, you can be effective using whichever
"appeal" best fits the situation or your personal style.
Personally, I loved
to hear both Carl Sagan (who most often used an "ethos" appeal) and
Zig Ziglar speak, though their styles were completely different. So,
be aware that there is no one best form of presentation...each can be
effective, in its own way, depending on the situation and the speaker's
personal style of communication.
One other observation
regarding the situation in which you are speaking, and one of the most
common mistakes made by "unprofessional" speakers...remember to ALWAYS
finish on time. This is particularly true when you are speaking at a
meal function such as a luncheon or dinner. Never ask "How long have
I got?" but rather, "When does your meeting usually end?" These types
of events are notorious for dragging on forever. If you have a 30-minute
presentation scheduled for 12:30 p.m., but you aren't able to begin
until 12:45 p.m. (and the group usually adjourns at 1:00 p.m.), cut
your program to 15 minutes. If you follow the advice in this short course,
you'll be prepared to do this and, believe me, the participants will
love you for it!
1999-2000 by William C. Wilson, Jr.
All Rights Reserved.