“A good teacher, like a good entertainer,
first must hold his audience’s attention.”
— John Henrik Clarke ¹
Tyler worked in Tech.
As a salesperson, he was as committed to his customer as to the products he sold.
He was also, as the saying goes, the one who could "talk past the end of the sale.” The customer might say on slide three, “I like it! When can we start?” but Tyler would feel the urge to continue, so enthralled by his product that he couldn't help but keep explaining it — even after the customer had already decided to buy it.
Tyler would keep going and going.
On slide 13, the customer would ask again: “I like it. How do we start?” But Tyler would keep going. The answer to ‘how do we start?’ was on slide 39. In Tyler’s mind, rather than skip to slide 39, it was important to step there logically.
One day, during a sales pitch, Tyler’s boss suddenly stepped in and took over the presentation mid-way through.
Later, Tyler asked, 'Why did you do that?' His boss explained, “because five minutes in the customer was ready to buy, and five minutes later she was bored to tears — you have to work off their rhythm.”
Tyler is the type of presenter we call a Teacher.
The “Teacher” is one of six presenter types, including Storyteller, Coach, Counselor, Inventor, and Producer.
Teachers use the sequence, Structure, Words, Pictures as the building blocks for their presentations.
A Teacher is a highly organized speaker who can easily get complex ideas across.
Teachers rely on structure to build a narrative and thread their words around that content.
If you're a Teacher, you can take even the most complex information and make it come alive. The ability to bring structure means the audience can always see a clear flow through a presentation's content.
Teachers flow their audience through a structure.
Command of words and language brings that flow to life with figures of speech and metaphors. Teachers can also hold long talk tracks in their heads. Which means they can faithfully replicate the same presentation over and over.
In both the physical and virtual worlds, Teachers have many advantages.
The firmness with which they retain content means they're rarely thrown off-course by anything unexpected. Teachers can easily handle the tech glitches that would trouble others. A Teacher can stick to their talk track no matter what. And that talk track, with its logic and clarity, helps audiences follow the message.
Teachers will feel as at home in remote environments as they do in face-to-face ones.
But, Teachers struggle to emotionally engage their audiences.
Here’s the problem:
You may be comfortable with audiences that are remote, but remote audiences may not be comfortable with you.
Your biggest challenge — you pay more attention to your content than to the audience. You don't help that audience to feel a part of the story and picture themselves in the message. Remote environments amplify this problem. You can be more technical than engaging.
Teachers love their content more than their audience.
Apparent coolness as a presenter means that while the audience buys into your content, they are less likely to buy into you.
You need to keep finding ways to connect with your audience and have them connect to you.
You feel the need to deliver all of your slides, even if some of them are less relevant.
Because Teachers are comfortable with complex visuals, what is simple for them to understand, is not for the audience. That same seemingly simple chart looks to the audience like a wiring diagram — difficult to grasp.
Simplify your wiring diagrams for the audience.
Overly complex slides make your content less accessible. Visuals that are theoretical or conceptual block the audience from connecting or engaging. Prioritizing material over interaction and engagement creates distance, making it hard for the audience to connect with you.
For a Teacher and their audience, context is crucial. Make sure the audience understands the how and the why before getting buried in the what.
How Teachers can seem less remote when presenting remotely; and more personable when in person.
Anything you, and your deck, can do to build a bridge to your audience will pay dividends.
Build your slides to make a bridge to your audience.
Make your slides more comprehensible by editing and tailoring for the audience. Use builds and animations to provide movement. Explore tools such as chat and polling for extra interaction. Questions build connections — and they are well worth planning with the same care you plan your slides.
Make your connection as strong as your content, and as a Teacher, you have ample skills to thrive as a presenter — either face-to-face or remote.
Gavin McMahon is a founder and Chief Learning and Product Officer for fassforward. He leads the design and product development of fassforward’s services. This crosses diverse topics, including leadership, culture, decision-making, information design, storytelling, and learning design.
Michael Flanagan is an Executive Advisor and Facilitator with fassforward. Michael has a deep Organization Effectiveness background. 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 facilitates Live/online and tailored programs. Peter is fassforward's lead instructional designer for Live/online experiences. Live/online delivers mission-critical leadership and communications training, at scale, to business audiences around the world.
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.