garden pathAll effective speakers know that they need to take their audience on a journey. A journey from where they are at the start of the presentation, to where they need to be at the end in order to take the presenters desired action.

Occasionally you’ll be lucky and your audience will have already bought in to the concept’s that you are presenting. If they are, then recognise this and give them what just what they need. Remember you are pushing against an open door.

More often than not, however, they are not in full agreement with you. In fact they may even be sceptical or hostile. When this happens you have to work much harder.

From my experience, you need to map a course to get them from where they are to where you need them to be. If they are hostile, then you will need some intermediate stages that you need to lead them through before they become enthusiastic or converted. Perhaps they need to be curious, and then from curiosity you can lead them on to interest and then from interest on to openness and finally from openness into conviction.

Next time you prepare a presentation, start my mapping our the route needed and then consider how you are going to get them to each intermediate stage. Doing it this way makes it a lot easier and a lot more effective.


  1. Jo Jameson on 24/01/2008 at 18:28

    Hi Gavin

    I’ve put a link to this post on my blog as I think my readers will really enjoy your article.

  2. Jo Jameson on 24/01/2008 at 18:17

    You make an excellent point. Far too often, speakers barge straight at a subject like a bull in a china shop, going in for the kill on the ‘big idea’ and often leaving audiences unwilling or unable to keep up. Instead, leading an audience in stages helps to build their trust and makes your job as a speaker much easier in the long run (especially if you can convince them that was where they’d wanted to go all along!)

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