Yoda Presentation Tracie Marquardt

Why You Should Channel Yoda in Your Next Presentation

Most of us know the movie:  Yoda mentors Luke by giving him guidance, insight and advice. Taking on that mindset in your next presentation will get you better results that just informing your audience of the new process, procedures or change.

In a recent training session on Preparing and Delivering Powerful Presentations, a participant told me that there was no purpose to his presentation other than to inform his audience about a new template that should be used by staff going forward.

“Steffen,” I said, “there must be a more actionable reason you are giving the presentation. Otherwise, you could just send an email with the slides attached.”

This is not the first time I have heard this, that the only reason for a presentation is to inform. And I don’t believe it.

I poked and prodded Steffen throughout the morning with specific questions, including my favourite question, “So what?”

Presenting to influence and affect change

As the session went on, and Steffen eventually came to the conclusion that there was in fact another reason for his presentation. His real purpose was to persuade the Country Managers to accept the new purchasing template and to champion its use within their local organizations.

Steffen explained that while using the new template was mandatory from a Global Purchasing perspective, it’s never easy to get staff in faraway places to take accept change. After all, the current template had been working just fine for years. And it would be another instance of headquarters unilaterally imposing a change on local organizations.

You could argue that the Country Managers should just accept the new template and pass on the facts to their staff. “Here it is, use it.” This may be enough to get achieve the desired result, but in practice doesn’t usually produce consistent results.

By going two steps further, and explaining why the new template is needed, and how it will positively impact not just the organization but the individuals using it, Steffen is more likely to achieve the desired result.

So what did this mean for Steffen as he redesigned his presentation? Steffen had to:

  • Be crystal clear on his purpose and the result he wanted from the presentation.
  • Understand the mindset of the Country Managers and anticipate their objections in advance;
  • Anticipate and overcome the objections of the staff who would have to use the template even though they weren’t present;
  • Explain why the new template was so important to the global organization (but this is not enough);
  • Clearly describe the benefits of using the new template to the staff in faraway locations, which included clearer measures for bonus calculations;
  • Give Country Managers the argumentation that they in turn needed to persuade their staff;
  • Explicitly tell the Country Managers what action he wanted them to take.

How you can apply this to your next presentation

In every presentation you create, focus on the why: what are the benefits at every level: to the individual, the team and the organisation, at both local and global levels. Explain the impact of not taking the action. Your audience’s journey to success begins when they leave your presentation. Arm them with the tools, techniques and strategies they need to be successful, so they can continue to add value to the organization. Be Yoda.

All the best,

Tracie Marquardt

This article first appeared on Quality Assurance Communication.

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Tracie Marquardt

I've been living outside of my home country for over 20 years. I've lived in 3 countries and 10 cities. Falling in love with Paris is what led me to Europe (and I go back often). I think Germany is an amazing country, and a great hub from which to travel to the rest of Europe. I started my own business in the Heidelberg region in 2013. My mission is helping international professionals communicate their key messages clearly and concisely in English. I believe that language and culture are huge factors in the success of our communication, and must be taken into account when we interact with and build relationships with others. By networking together from around the world, we are able to build bridges, add value to each others lives, and I hope, contribute to each others success in life, no matter how that success is defined. So let's get started!