I think that most presentations can be classified as persuasive or informative.These two presentation types can cover quite a range — more entertaining or less, informal or keynote,for example.
What is a persuasive presentation?
Some presentations are for the purpose of selling a product or service.
Other presentations try to sell an idea. For example, maybe you want approval for a proposal. You might want to persuade people to contribute to a cause.
The success of a persuasive presentation is determined by how many people make a purchase or how many people contribute to the cause. For a proposal, success is determined by whether or not you get the approval you need.
What is an informative presentation?
Many informative presentations are delivered for training or education. There may be a small element of persuasion at the beginning of an educational lecture, for example, as the teacher tries to persuade students that the topic is worth learning about. But mostly the teacher wants the students to understand and remember the content.
An informative presentation may be followed by a test or exercise and the success of the presentation may be determined by how well the students do on the test or exercise.
Another type of informative presentation is the result of research, such as a presentation at a scientific conference or a market research presentation meant to provide the information a company needs to make a business decision. The success of the presentation would be determined by the outcome of the decision.
What do persuasive and informative presentations have in common?
There are many characteristics that both types of presentations share:
- Your goal is to be clear so that your audience understands and remembers what you say
- Your material should be customized for your specific audience
- You should engage your audience with questions and answers and other interactive approaches
How are persuasive and informative presentations different?
But there are differences, too. I remember listening to a recording of a presentation given by a research scientist at a press conference before a 2009 Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. He wanted the reporters to put a sentence or two about the research on the Transcendental Meditation technique in their articles. (The concert was a benefit to raise funds to teach inner-city children this stress-reducing technique).
Instead, he gave an informative presentation, which was overly technical and not helpful to the reporters, many of which covered popular culture. (Paul and Ringo singing together on the same stage!)
This highlights that the main difference is obviously the different goal–to persuade or to inform. But how do you change your presentation to match your goal?
Here are my thoughts:
- Problem-solution: Most persuasive presentations highlight the problem and then offer a solution. People won’t act unless you can provide a solution to a problem they have. Informative presentations use this concept less often, although a trainer could be training people to overcome a problem such as poor customer service or even poor sales.
- Benefits: Similarly, in a persuasive presentation, you need to outline the benefits of the solution, what the audience will gain from buying, contributing, or approving. In an informative presentation, you may talk about the importance of the information, but this aspect is a much smaller part of the whole presentation.
- Emotion: Studies have shown that people can’t make a decision without feeling good about it and for that they need to tap into their emotions. Therefore, the presenter needs to elicit an emotional response. Informative presentations use emotion much less.
- Trust: In order to commit, the audience must trust the presenter and feel comfortable that others have taken the same route. Testimonials, case studies, the presenter’s previous successes, and stories all contribute to trust and “social proof.” Of course, it’s good that an audience trust an informative presenter, but the emphasis is more on the content.
- Action step: For a persuasive presentation, there must be a call to action at the end — to buy, contribute, or approve. However an informative presentation can also suggest that people act — “put what you’ve learned into practice.”
How do you think persuasive and informative presentations are different?