When Trolling for Business, Don’t Wing It
The ability to present a compelling depiction of the facts or the proposition, regardless of subject matter, has common elements. These common elements are associated with skills that can be learned and can be developed. This article is about those common three elements.
The first relates to substance, or the “what” of the presentation. This is the meat and potatoes of the essence of what’s being proposed and presented. Second is the structure, the “way” the meat and potatoes are organized on the plate, so that it can be received in the most compelling and memorable fashion. Third is the style or the “how” of the presentation.
Let’s begin with a simple question. Of those three, which is the most important—substance, structure or style? Most reply: substance. It seems obvious that the answer is substance. But wait. Think back on your educational experience, be it grammar school, high school or college. Think about the teachers from whom you learned the most. Now think of one or two phrases that describe why you consider them to be your best teachers. Much research in pedagogy has been done over the years to understand why people learn the way they do. It turns out that when this question is asked in a free form, the answers are rarely: “they knew their subject matter,” “they were brilliant,” “they had command of the fact” or “they really knew their stuff.” Much more likely responses are: “made learning fun,” “made the class memorable,” “was highly organized in the way they presented things,” “I could always follow along” or “made note taking easy.” What do all of those things have in common? Clearly, they all relate to structure and style. Even though we all may believe that substance is the most important part of a presentation, I suggest that it’s an important part, but it’s not the only important part. If all you’re doing is presenting the facts, then you’re not doing everything that you can to be a compelling teacher from whom the listeners learn much and remember well.