Superior Presentations Tip #77: What’s the purpose of your presentation?

What’s the purpose of your presentation?

Presentations fail when the presenter doesn’t understand the real purpose.

Presenters have told me that their plan was to speak for 30 minutes, cover all the material or represent their company. Some confessed that their goal was to deliver their message, prove their point or receive a standing ovation. Executives and managers said that they needed to report the latest numbers, update the board or bring everyone up to date.

Each of those is a poor description of the presentation purpose. Why? Because those are speaker focused. And if you define success based on the speaker and not the audience the presentation will almost always fail.

You must define your presentation success in terms of the audience. The only valid reason to speak – especially in business – is to move your audience. Every presentation is a step in advancing the group.

Here is the critical question you must ask yourself before every presentation:

What do you want people to think, feel or do after your presentation?

Design, deliver and evaluate your presentation on the answer to that question.

The real purpose of speaking is to move people. If you moved them in the direction you intended your presentation was successful. The level of success is determined by how many moved and how far they moved.

If all you did was cover the material, the presentation was for you and not the audience. That makes it a failure.

Perhaps you want:

Front line staff to adopt a different approach with customers
Association members to volunteer for committees
Investors to contribute more funds
Shoppers to buy
Voters to support you

Be clear about your purpose and be able to state it clearly so everything you do contributes to your success.

The purpose of speaking is not to speak; it’s to move people.

Design, deliver and measure the success of your presentation based on what you want people to think, feel or do.


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