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Presentations: Information or Relationship?

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” 
-John Ford  

When most of us go to work, we live in two places at the same time. One is the brick and mortar building where we find offices, information, and work processes. The other is the realm of people, relationships, and conversation. One is a structure; the other is social.

This is a really helpful way to think about presentations. For that matter, it’s a pretty good way to think about all of your interactions. If you want your information to be absorbed and accepted, you have to develop a relationship with the people who are with you.


People listening need to know:

 1. Who you are. Not just your title and credentials, but how you are like them–especially in relation to the data that you’re discussing. What did you struggle with or discover when you developed the presentation? Tell them. It will increase your humanity factor and your credibility.

2. How the data could have meaning for them and their situation. Are you connecting the dots for your audience or just showing data points? If you don’t add your take on the meaning, others will create their own. And it may not be accurate or what you intended.

3. That they’re part of the conversation. The best presentations aren’t presentations, they’re conversations. The sooner you invite comments, questions, and discussions, the more chance you have of connecting with the group.

Bonus: When you start a conversation, the pressure moves away from you. Ownership for the topic becomes shared. Shared ownership breeds new ways of looking at your topic,increases participation, and increases the chances of acceptance.

Information or Relationship? Yes.

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