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Meiss Education Institute

Determining Your Presentation PIE: Setting Your Objectives
By Rich Meiss

Designing & Delivering Powerful Presentations Series: II

Just like any worthwhile endeavor, good presentations begin with a target – a goal.  

A number of years ago I visited a circus in Florida where the guests could become a part of the act.  I chose to try the tight rope walk.  I was instructed to climb up a ladder where I was outfitted with an elaborate harness, which was hooked up to a strong cable.  This was to insure that if I fell off the rope, I would not fall to the ground but would be caught and held by the harness and cable.  

With this assurance, I was ready to listen to the instructions about how to walk the tight rope.  The most important thing to keep in mind, I was told, was to look at where I was going – the end of the rope – rather than looking down at my feet.  I was reminded of the quote:  “Obstacles are the fearful things we see when we take our eyes off the goal!”  In the case of tight rope walking, our feet become the obstacles.  If we focus on the goal – the end of the walk – we are more likely to successfully navigate the journey.  With this good advice I was able to walk the tight rope successfully to my destination.

Presenting is in many ways like that tight rope walk.  There are lots of things that can get us looking at the obstacles (presentation fear, a concern for how we will come across, anxiety over how to use our visuals, etc.) rather than concentrating on our end goal.  Our main objective should be to create value for our audience – to meet a need that they have.  We’ll talk more about this in the next chapter.  For now, let’s focus on the main goals of typical presentations.

Presentation Objectives Generally Fall into One of Three Categories

The easy way to remember the three main goals of a presentation are to think of Presentation 

P - Persuade
I  - Inform
E - Entertain

To Persuade (or motivate):The focus of a presentation that is designed to Persuade is change.  Audience members are asked to change an attitude or opinion, or take an action as a result of the presentation.  The key outcome is change.

Examples include:

·         To get people to purchase a product or service 

·         To help people choose a health plan

·         To get people to use the internet

To Inform (or educate): The focus of this type of presentation is information.  The participants need to know something at the conclusion of the presentation that they didn’t know before.  The key outcome is new data.

Examples include:

·         To understand the new company policies

·         To identify the features of a new product

·         To discover how to use the new equipment

To Entertain (or amuse):The focus of this type of presentation is enjoyment.  The participants should feel good and enjoy themselves during and after the presentation.  The key outcome is entertainment.

Examples include:

·         To get people to laugh at themselves

·         To roast the retiring employee

·         To perform magic tricks

Many presentations are some combination of two or three of these objectives.  For example, a sales presentation must often educate people first about a product or service, and then persuade them to buy.  Or a business presentation may be designed to motivate employees to put forth their best effort at work, and it is often accompanied by some entertainment.

Add Some Entertainment to Keep It Interesting

Although most business or organizational presentations are not designed primarily to entertain, it is a good idea to build some entertainment into your presentation.  To show the value of entertainment along with education, consider these salaries:

The President of one of the largest public Universities in the U.S. earns about ½ million  dollars per year

The leading talk show hosts in the U.S. today earn salaries in excess of 15 million dollars per year

All of which supports the point that people will pay more to be entertained than to be educated.  So to create maximum value for your audience, make sure to add some entertainment in with your education.  


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