When Trolling for Business, Don’t Wing It
The tone and manner of a presentation and of its delivery matter a lot. Try to err on the side of formality. Why should you do that? If you go informal and you sense that you’ve stepped over a line, it’s very difficult to go from informal to formal. If, however, you begin in a more formal presentation mode, it’s very easy to become informal, so it’s a safe bet to be formal in your tone of delivery.
Try to be instructive but not chatty. You’re not there to gossip or to kibitz. It’s not a mahjong party. The listeners are there to learn, they’re there to be convinced, so try to be instructive. You know you have connected when the post presentation comments are phrases like, “I learned a lot,” “I was informed” or “I came away with a lot of things I didn’t know.”
Use variety—Classical music provides another wonderful illustration of this. Over a classical composition, the various movements—allegro, andante, adagio—serve to change the timing, the tempo and the mood of the piece. Even with a brief presentation, a monotonic delivery, regardless of the quality of the substance, can quickly kill a listener’s attention.
Tell a story. It’s no accident that virtually all of the key teachings of Christianity are contained in parables. Jesus of Nazareth used parables or stories to illustrate points of humanity, of social justice, of compassion and of wisdom. Stories are memorable and are repeated. Third-year law students learning case presentation are always taught to set out a story in the delivery of opening arguments. They outline a story around which the evidence is going to be presented. By so doing, they’re giving the jury a framework to learn and to understand the presentation of the facts of the case.