Three “knows” to know

A successsul presentation should contain the three "knows": 1. need to know, 2. want to know, 3. nice to know. It goes without saying that there are things the audience needs to know — things that we believe are pertinent to our talk, and to the listeners. They need to know this in order to make a decision, to give you their support, to do the task, to be persuaded, won over, induced, motivated, or whatever it is we are attempting to achieve.

Beyond that there are things the listeners will want to know — stuff they might be curious about, intrigued by, or dying to know. We should at least try to find out what it is that they might want to know, by asking ourselves if we were them what would we want to know about the topic, or by asking one or more colleagues. Providing some want-to-knows signalizes interest in our listeners, and will be rewarded.

But it doesn’t end there. The nice-to-knows are the funny, odd, out of the ordinary, and extraordinary items related to our topic. They can add value, underline a point, and break the ice. They can even be thought-provoking, stimulating, and entertaining. Mixing, sprinkling, and juggling these three components will make our presentation interesting, and helps us to the most valuable thing for a presenter — the undivided attention of the audience.

Paule Wendelberger