When Trolling for Business, Don’t Wing It
Is it OK to repeat in a presentation? Everyone tries to avoid this, we are taught early not to be repetitious; not to say things over and over again. I suggest that it’s bad to be repetitious, but repetition is perfectly OK as long as it’s linked back to the unifying theme.
Let me provide two illustrations. Remember those 27 reasons the Declaration of Independence gives for independency of the 13 colonies? It turns out that those reasons are contained in only 13 sentences and eight independent clauses. Each of those sentences and clauses begin with only two words, “He” and “For.” Do you think that Jefferson didn’t have a bigger vocabulary to come up with a few different words? Not likely. It begins with “He” or “For,” in order to be convincing. Jefferson understood the power of repetition. In those pre-Internet, pre-mass media days, the principal method of dissemination was the printed word which then was spoken from town halls, from balconies and from village greens all over the 13 colonies. Repetition of the spoken word can be among presenters’ most powerful tools.
Music provides another illustration: Ludwig Von Beethoven’s first four notes of his Fifth Symphony. That four note rhythmic theme is repeated dozens of times over the course of all four movements of the piece. It was composed in 1808, and it has been the subject of hundreds of scholarly criticisms over the last 200 years. Yet it has never been called repetitious. The reason is simple. It does a brilliant job of linking back to the unifying theme. Repetition can be a powerful presentation technique as long as it’s linked back to the unifying theme.
Finally, as it relates to your style, do you really know it; do you know it well enough to teach it? It’s a great test of how well you know a subject. Can you teach it to others?