As presenters, we play various roles. It all depends on the situation
- Who gave you the assignment to present
- What the goal is
- Who the audience is
I think that all too often, the “presentation police” ignore the variety of situations that presenters face when they present. Because of this, they speak as if all presentations are the same. They are not.
Here are some of the presenter roles I’ve come up with. Perhaps you can think of more.
Let’s say that your boss says, “We have to make a decision about when to launch our next product. I’d like you to do some market research and bring us the results so our team can discuss it and make a decision.” Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
This situation is very common. In this case, you’re the facilitator of the discussion. You have come up with some issues and done market research on them. You have the data. The team wants to see the data and look at the issues. During the meeting, if it’s successful, the team will make a decision. Or maybe your boss will listen to the opinions of everyone on the team and make the decision.
On the other hand, your boss might say, “We need to decide when to launch our next product. Bring me a proposal.” Or, you may be in charge of the decision but need approval, so you might go to your boss and say, “We need to set a launch date. Can I make an appointment to present you with a proposal?”
Here, you are a persuader. Another obvious example is a sales presentation. Your goal is to persuade your audience to agree with your proposal or to buy your product/service.
Training often involves persuasion. Perhaps employees are not following regulations and so you set up a presentation to show them why the regulations are important and the consequences of not following them. You want to persuade these employees to follow all of the regulations.
Sometimes, you aren’t trying to persuade an an audience to do something specific, but just want to uplift their approach and inspire them to move forward — in their work or in their life. In this case, you’re a motivator. You could be a motivational speaker at a conference, the CEO of a company, or just a team leader.
Not all training is primarily persuasive. While you do need to persuade your audience of the importance of your training, much of the content may be informational. Perhaps you’re training people how to use a new software program or how to provide better customer service. Once you’ve engaged the trainees, you need to give them the information they need to apply in their work.
Listener? Well, maybe this role doesn’t exactly fit the definition of “presenter,” but there are times that you’re in front of an audience and your main role is to listen. Maybe your company thinks that morale is low and sent you around to listen to the comments of employees. You’ll need to be part facilitator to get people talking and part motivator to convince people that management will pay attention, but then you mostly need to be a good listener.
Most presentations have a Question & Answer period and during this time, all presenters need to listen well.
Have I left out a role?
What else can you think of? Leave a comment!
Absolutely – “presentation” can mean a lot of different things. The advice or criticism that you get about your presentation may not be right for your specific scenario.
For what it’s worth,here’re my thoughts about this (from a somewhat different perspective): http://pptcrafter.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/the-uses-of-powerpoint/
That’s a good list; I don’t think you want too many roles.
I’d like to mention that you play your role as presenter and other elements of your presentation must play their roles as well:
You: explain, engage, answer questions, tell stories, entertain, and provide the human touch (humor, emotion, spontaneity, likeability, etc.).
Slides/visuals: support you, show relationships/processes/trends, provide visual stimulation.
Collaterals/handouts: provide executive summary, details, references, appendices, and enhance your credibility.
Don’t read a document or give a lecture. Don’t let your slides take center stage or do what a handout can do better. Bottom line: understand which elements do which roles.
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