How Great Leaders Inspire Action

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Recently, Simon Simek gave a TED talk on this topic. He notes that most people focus on what they want to do and then how to do it. It is only at the end that we address why we should do it. This is the hallmark of weak presentations.

For example, imagine a presentation focusing on getting approval to sell mobile devices. What will we do? We will produce cell phones and tablets, with competitive features. How will we do this? We will design them in the U.S. and manufacture them in China. Why are we doing this? So we can offer a product with competitive features at lower costs and greater profit margins and/or market share. Now, everyone should rejoice that we can produce another commodity product that will compete favorably with other similar products for the time being.

Great presentations start the other way around. Why introduce an iPhone or iPad? To connect people to family and friends and things that will enrich their lives. How is this accomplished? By designing something special and then producing them at the lowest cost possible in Asia. The “What” of all of this: “cool” tools that are part of an ecosystem of other products and support systems (e.g., Genius stores).

So the next time you develop a presentation, show your passion and engage the audience first in why this subject or product matters. Then work through the how’s and what’s! Now go enjoy his presentation at

Control the Room Set-Up

If you’re ever presenting in a room that is not conducive to engaging the audience, do what you can to change the set-up. Recently, I was asked to moderate a session and give a presentation at a conference after lunch. Obviously the audience was experiencing post-lunch drowsiness. The panel was on stage quite a distance from the audience. To keep everyone engaged for the hour-long session meant closing the distance between the parties.

I moved the podium down to the floor only a few feet away from the first luncheon tables. Then, using a Lavalier microphone, I began walking closer to several tables in order to use eye contact and body movement as a way of maintaining the audience’s attention. By the time I finished, not only was everyone still awake, but now they were engaged in asking lots of good questions.