Beginnings and ends

Every presentation starts at the beginning and stops at the end. Unless it doesn’t. Like most presentations. (Yours?)

I mean, of course, every presentation starts and stops at some point but that doesn‘t mean that it has a beginning or an ending. It just starts and stops. It goes from the middle of somewhere to the middle of nowhere while delivering a host of facts that may or may not lead anywhere.

To see what I mean, let’s revisit what beginning and end really means. So, let’s take a step back.

Every presentation that’s necessary is about change – about changing the minds of your audience. You might need the board of directors to acknowledge a strategic problem. You might want your customers to buy your product. You might want to inspire your employees to understand where the company is going …

Whatever your change is, to make it happen you need the people in your audience to see the world differently after your presentation than before. It’s this difference that determines the beginning and end of your presentation. When the audience enters the room, they have one worldview and after the talk they have another. You pick them up at one point – the beginning – and guide them to another – the end.

It follows immediately that the beginning of your presentation isn’t about you (your CV, your company history, your achievements, organizational structure, portfolio or whatever) but about the audience. It’s not about where you are coming from but where your audience is coming from. Your audience needs to feel: She’s talking about me. This is where I’m at.

That’s the beginning – and it’s in stark contrast to the starting point of most presentations which is all about the presenter.

The end of your presentation is the point at which the change is achieved. It’s when your audience feels: “This is who I want to become. This is where I want to go. This will be me.” It’s the point of no return for your audience. They can’t unsee what you’ve made them see.

The thing is, only when you know your beginning and end can you become the guide that takes your audience from where they are to where they want to be.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz


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