You Get When You Give (or “Hoarders Never Finish First”)

Recently, I was asked to comment on how presenters can create presentations that are sure to be shared.

While some people might say, “Be sure to be funny,” or “Have fantastic graphics,” or “Constantly allude to your intellectual superiority” (OK, nobody says that, but many speakers do it) my feeling is, give your audience practical, tangible takeaways.

Unfortunately, however, too many people don’t want to give up, or give away, what they view as “proprietary information” (Or, what the slightly less litigiously-minded refer to as “my ideas.”) so they create presentations that dance around information, but aren’t ultimately useful.

For example, someone will give a presentation on team building that sounds something like, “Creating teams is important. Without teams companies cannot thrive. In order to be effective, teams must be strong. And strong teams need strong leaders. So when you have a strong leader, you will have a strong team.”

(All the while including visuals of strong men squinting into the sun.)

Now I don’t know about you, but this kind of thing d.r.i.v.e.s  m.e. c.r.a.z.y. If you’re giving a presentation on team building, then tell me HOW build a strong team. Don’t talk around the issue.  Tell me exactly what I need to do today to make my team stronger tomorrow.

(For example, you could borrow an idea from the U.S. Military and give your project or initiative a name that reminds everyone that their work informs and furthers both their goals and dreams and the goals and dreams of the company as a whole. After all, there’s a reason they give things names like “Operation Rolling Thunder” not “Operation Let’s Cross Our Fingers.”)

In my view, ideas belong to everybody. (As you likely noticed, I just borrowed one from the military and offered it to you.) If you’ve had a few good ones, don’t hoard them– give them away! You’ll have more! (And if you don’t, that shouldn’t be your audience’s problem.) Presentations with a ton of takeaways are the ones that are shared; and presenters who treat their audience as intellectual equals are the ones that are loved.

Frances Cole Jones