What You Drive May Determine How You Present

Are you a Smart car person?

F-350 monster truck?

Sports car or sedan?

SUV or soccer van?

Although most of us know how to drive, we’re not equally comfortable in all vehicles.  If the extreme compactness of the Smart car makes you anxious, chances are it can still get you from here to there, if you had no other choice. In other words, you can meet the trip’s basic requirements, but not much more.

It’s another way of thinking about the way you organize your content for presenting to a particular audience.  You have to know where you’re going and how quickly you have to get there; you have to know who is coming for the ride and how much trunk space is required. 

When organizing your content for an audience, at a minimum you must be clear on your objectives, your audience’s needs and desires, their characteristics, and how you can make a contribution.  The difference between an acceptable presentation and an outstanding one is choosing the vehicle that allows you to do your best, most enjoyable driving. If you’re having fun, so will they.

In my work with presentation coaching clients, it’s far too often I find race car drivers chained to a tractor, or nervous, inexperienced drivers strapped into a performance sports car.  Oftentimes the vehicle has been chosen by someone else or, believing the vehicle matters more than the driver, the presenter has been overly ambitious, or needlessly cautious.

Any presentation is a symbiotic soup of content and performance.  A great performer can only do so much with lame content, and a weak performer will not have the chops to navigate an intricately woven audience experience.

When you look at how to structure your carefully selected content, think about your strengths and choose according to them.  If you’re not funny, don’t go for laughs.  If you get confused by numbers and detailed information, stay at the forest level, not the treeline. 

“No matter which vehicle you choose, you’ll likely have a choice of colours. The colour of a presentation comes in its story. There are as many ways of combining information as there are people on the planet, and every one of them has a story that someone else wants to hear. Enjoy the ride!”

Joanna Piros