August 24, 2009

Self-serving introductions and butt-kissing thank yous



I downloaded an e-book the other day that went like this:

Title page
Second title page
Copyright page
Publisher page
About the authors (2 pages)
Contents
Foreword (5 pages)
Introduction by one of the authors (2 pages)
Chapter 1

I was fifteen pages into the e-book before the actual content began.

If you were to approach an audience like this, the room would be empty by the time you started your actual presentation.

The e-book is 44 pages long. The introductory pages make up 1/3 of the whole book. Imagine taking 20 minutes out of your hour-long presentation to talk about yourself and your history and the background of your presentation.

This was a free e-book, which makes me think that the authors were trying to get all their marketing information up front. But guess what: I don't care about all of that! I can wait till the end to read about the authors and their credentials and their accolades. What I want is content. Information. Value.

If you do nothing else in your presentation, don't waste the audience's time. Respect your audience by giving them what they've come for. Don't make them wait through your self-serving introduction and butt-kissing thank yous.

Get right down to business. It's the least you can do.

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9 comments. Please add yours! :

Business Communications Training said...

So true. We do not have to spend too long on credibility or naming off all our supporting points. Its best to be concise yet it does pay to establish a sense of expertise as well as allow the audience to know the 3 things they will take away from this session.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, BCT. Engaging the audience up front, stimulating their curiosity and grabbing their attention are my priorities. They'll discover my expertise as they listen to my presentation. After all, I wouldn't have been invited to speak to them if I weren't an expert!

Laura said...

Holy cow. I was actually at a presentation last week where the speaker spent the first 15 minutes "establishing his credibility" (his words). I was counting the minutes, because he only had an hour for his presentation.

There's a reason speaker bios are usually under a minute. If a speaker can't demonstrate credibility in the first 60 seconds, nothing that follows is going to resonate well with the audience.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Wow, I didn't think people actually did this. I've always used it as a hypothetical argument. 15 minutes out of an hour-long presentation? What was he thinking?

Jorge Herrera said...

Hello Lisa, I found this article very interesting since I understand it is very important to build credibility so people will listen to you, but spending too much time in establishing credibility turns the audience off and creates bad rapport. What if you have a great message to share but you are starting and have not positions or successful results yet to use for credibility; Can you present yourself as a follower and practitioner of the concept you are sharing and make reference to several books written on the subject?

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your question, Jorge. It's important to establish yourself as an expert before you present yourself as an expert. Even if you present yourself as a follower and practitioner of a concept, you still have to know it well, be able to interpret it for your audience and have applied it in your own life if you're going to try to teach an audience how to apply the knowledge.

Here's a white paper by the National Speakers Association called "The Expertise Imperative," defining different levels of expertise and explaining the necessity of expertise among professional speakers. I think you'll find it helpful. http://tinyurl.com/nqng4f

Jorge Herrera said...

Thanks, I think I can handle explainning my subject to the audience; I have studied the concept a lot and understand it completely. Thanks for the document.

Mary Langnanw said...

Totally agree with your points. On the courses I train I see the same problem time and time again. I couldn't tell you the number of presentations I have seen that begin with a history of the company, a map of the world where all their offices are, revenue updates..who cares about all this??

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Haha -- a map of the world where their offices are! That just seems so ridiculous to me. It's so irrelevant to the presentation.

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