Presenter Types — How can “Inventors” overcome words being a worry?

September 23, 2021
4 min read
Photo by Stephan Valentin on Unsplash
“I’ve a grand memory for forgetting.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson

Innis liked to innovate.

Innis had the talent to see simple solutions to his company's product challenges and build clear presentations explaining not just the issues but also the solutions.

His problem came with finding the words to deliver the presentation. He knew what he wanted to say, but in front of an audience, those words just wouldn't come. Innis tried to memorize key phrases, but come presentation time, the word at the tip of his tongue would be "uhmmmmmmmmmmm".

People jumped to help Innis. Some would even tell him the words to say. Being given someone else's talk track, though, just made the issue worse. But being told what to say and how to say it made Innis feel helpless and frustrated.

Innis avoided presentations if he could help it. The result — neither Innis nor his ideas were ever recognized.

Until one day, a new job opportunity became available. Innis was the best qualified candidate, but failed to be selected. When he asked why, he found people regarded him as a highly capable 'technical person', but without the visibility or presence for a management position.

Innis was the type of presenter we call an Inventor.

This is one of six types, along with Storyteller, Coach, Counselor, Teacher, and Producer.

Inventors use the sequence, Pictures, Structure, Words. If you think that might be you, read on.

An Inventor is a visual and engaging speaker who likes to connect ideas and build logical sequences.

If you’re an Inventor, you use pictures and words as a platform to help you speak and to connect the dots for your audience.

Inventors paint a rich picture that connects the dots for an audience.

Inventors create great slides, but would just rather not present them. They think about the experiences they want to create, and then paint a rich picture through not just visuals but also stories and experiences that fill-out depth and details. These elements are organized into a logical structure that leads the audience to the desired point.

Compelling visuals free Inventors to tell stories, but they are happiest once finished, and much more comfortable working through the Q&A session.

In both the physical and virtual worlds, Inventors have many advantages. It’s a natural behavior for them to actively think about how to engage with the audience. This engagement is done in a way that’s logical and connects to the point being made. With Q&A being a natural environment for Inventors, tools such as polling and chat provide a great platform for starting discussions. Even virtual whiteboards can be used to help the flow of interaction.

Wherever there is a chance for audience interaction, Inventors are engaging and well structured presenters.

But, Inventors struggle to find the right words in the moment.

Here’s the problem:

For Inventors, TalkTracks can suddenly evaporate.

Inventors dread the moments when their words fail.

You worry about the dreaded “uhhhhhmmmmmm…” moment. As a result,  PowerPoint gets turned into a teleprompter. Slides are designed to create a “safe” presentation, packed with information and bullet-points and words;  the classic 'death by PowerPoint.'

For Inventors, being put in any position where you have to search for words is a big fear.

Holding long talk tracks in your head is difficult.

In conversations, you often think of the perfect thing to say about 13 hours after you wanted to say it!

Overpacked slides do nothing to help you recall a phrase.

You know that trying to remember that eloquent phrase, fact, or number is where it can all go horribly wrong. Those densely packed slides become a particular problem if presenting remotely. Hard to read on a big screen, they become impossible to read on a small one. The feeling of being distant from the audience creates the type of stress that leads Inventors to lean on their slides even more.

Overloading your slides with content as a safeguard against forgetting your words just increases the distance. If you’re an Inventor, you need to keep the audience interaction that’s essential to you.

How Inventors can get better.

Inventors draw energy from the audience, and whether in person or remote, it’s important to make that energy connection early.

Plan questions that link to your structure.

Planning questions linked to your structure will help you build the presentation with your audience. Capturing audience responses onto a whiteboard charts your content in realtime. Keep slides deliberately simple.

Writing your own talktrack will also be helpful as this starts to commit parts of your content to memory. It’s important that you don’t try to force yourself to remember it all though!

To help with that fear of suddenly losing your words, use PowerPoint to remember specific items that simply must be remembered. For the rest, use Click-Comment-Connect where items on the slides act as memory prompts for you to connect topics into your delivery. And if delivering remotely, have written notes close to your camera to provide added reassurance.

With practice, you can navigate any presentation, seem natural, and connect with your audience.

Gavin McMahon is a founder and Chief Content Officer for fassforward consulting group. He leads Learning Design and Product development across fassforward’s range of services. This crosses diverse topics, including Leadership, Culture, Decision-making, Information design, Storytelling, and Customer Experience. He is also a contributor to Forbes Business Council.

Michael Flanagan is an Executive Advisor and Facilitator with fassforward. Michael has a deep Organization Effectiveness background and he facilitates both live and online learning experiences on a wide range of topics including, leadership development, presentation skills, critical thinking and change management.

Peter Watts is a Senior Instructional Designer and Facilitator. He works on both fassforward's Live, Live/online and tailored programs. Peter is fassforward's lead instructional designer for Live/online experiences which deliver mission-critical leadership and communications training, globally, at scale.

Eugene Yoon is a graphic designer and illustrator at fassforward. She is a crafter of Visual Logic. Eugene is multifaceted and works on various types of projects, including but not limited to product design, UX and web design, data visualization, print design, advertising, and presentation design.

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