Effective presentations – you’re speaking for the audience’s benefit, not yours, says Seth Godin

When we talked about procurement skills recently, we stressed the need for a blend of technical skills, behavioural skills and – for many procurement roles – specific category skills.

One area that we might define as sitting at the intersection of behavioural and technical skills is communication. Some of what makes a good communicator is arguably “behavioural”, whilst there are definitely elements that have a basis in tangible skills, and can be taught and learnt, so we might define as ‘technical’.

And one aspect of communication where I do think procurement has made some good strides in recent years is in presentation skills. Attending a fair number of conferences and similar events, as I have for many years, I find that senior procurement people are without a doubt better presenters on average than their equivalents twenty years ago.

It is rare these days to get someone who is truly awful, which used to be the case all too often, even when it was senior practitioners performing.  And it is not unusual to find that the weaker performers at events are from the supply side – the firms who sponsor the conference, solution providers whose sales people sometimes don’t seem to know how to engage the procurement audience and be interesting.

However, we mustn’t be complacent. I enjoy presenting and do a lot of it, but still feel there is plenty I can learn, so I found this article by Seth Godin very illuminating. Godin is a writer and marketing guru, and I subscribe to his daily blog, almost always worth reading and often truly excellent. In this piece he talks about presentations.

And his message is very simple. You’re not there (or you shouldn’t be) to show off or satisfy your own desires or goals – the subject of the talk is not you, as he says. And that is good news too in terms of any worries we may have about what people think.

“You are not being judged, the value of what you are bringing to the audience is being judged. The topic of the talk isn't you, the topic of the talk is the audience, and specifically, how they can use your experience and knowledge to achieve their objectives”, says Godin.

The audience are interested in themselves, not you.

“The audience wants to know what they can use, what they can learn, or at the very least, how they can be entertained”.

I agree, although my view is that you can try to be entertaining as well as giving the audience something to use or learn – they’re not mutually exclusive factors.  So do bear Godin’s comments in mind – but I’m pleased to say that more and more procurement people seem to get this.

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  1. Peter Kobryn:

    Seth Godin’s daily thoughts are always illuminating and often gems …..almost as eagerly read as Spend Matters….

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