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Each individual’s personality shapes how he or she handles different tasks. Whether it be tackling a tough problem or simply talking with a friend, we handle things differently. This applies just as easily to giving presentations.
Most of the time when we give a presentation, we think in terms of “one size fits all.” Throwing a blanket over the methods that can be used to give a presentation makes it easier to instruct someone else how to do so. However, as everyone has their own unique way of handling things, such a broad blanket might make things harder for some individuals just as it makes it easier for others.
Let’s look at someone who is highly emotional versus someone who is very logical. The first person would likely express a lot of passion when presenting their subject, while the second would likely focus more on facts. Similar differences would appear between introverted and extroverted individuals.
This concept of “different types presenters” seems to be taking hold in people’s minds, similar to the way we hear of “different types of learners” and “different types of leaders.” The goal of examining types of presenters is to help individuals find a style that they’re comfortable with.
There are several different schemes for categorizing presenters. Listed below are several that can help you maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses as a public speaker.
According to Gavin McMahon from Make a Powerful Point, there is no one single type of presenter that would fit everyone. After a decade of working with presenters from all types of industries, he created the following categorization scheme for different presenter types:
While no one will perfectly fit any one of these categories, the path to becoming the best presenter you can possibly be in accordance with your temperament starts with determining which of these six types best fits your personal style. To find out, take this fun and short quiz.
The writers at Presentation Process took a different approach by focusing instead on four different possibilities:
The site also offers a quiz at the beginning to help readers self-reflect, allowing them to figure out what presenter type best fits them based on their answers. This particular site is useful in that it lists specific improvements for these presenter types directly on the page, and is probably best for someone searching for a well-organized, straight-forward examination of the subject.
Another version of the previous classification can be seen as a slide deck on SlideShare, and splits the middle with five different presenter types:
The slide deck also looks at what the different types of presenters believe and how they might affect a given audience.
This site, The Mindful Presenter, goes a bit more in-depth in explaining that one size probably does not fit all. It concludes that in order to really decide what sort of presenter you are, you must be completely honest with yourself. They do, however, list a few different general categories people might fall into:
The variety of opinions available on the subject can be staggering. Perhaps you’ve looked over all of the listed possibilities and don’t feel you truly fit any of these options. As I said before, each person is an individual, and so you may not clearly fit any one box.
There is very little direct empirical data on what makes different types of presenters, and many of the articles listed above directly admit that their findings aren’t meant to be taken as gospel truth, but more as potential guidelines for people interested in the subject. As such, it is difficult to say for certain what set—if any—is best used to examine the subject.
What can be done is to examine the common threads between these articles. Of note, “The Teacher” and “The Motivator” labels appear twice, likely because of the fact that teachers quite frequently have to speak to large groups of people, and presentations can often be used to motivate others to action. Other similarities across the board include:
Based on these threads, I've found three different categories that are common to all of these presenter models: fact-focused versus emotion-focused, data-oriented versus people-oriented and energetic versus reserved.
You are likely fact-focused if you:
If you’re fact-focused, you’re likely very good at presenting a logical explanation, and can probably guide your audience through difficult topics. However, you also likely struggle to engage your audience on an emotional level.
You are likely emotion-focused if you:
Being emotionally-focused means you can engage your audience on a deeper level than someone who is purely fact-focused by sweeping listeners up in your own feelings. Being purely emotionally-focused can make it difficult for audiences to find you credible, however.
This categorization is similar in some ways to Fact vs. Emotion, but with slight differences.
Someone who is data-oriented is likely to:
This person may be very passionate about a topic but is probably far less concerned about engaging his or her audience, instead speaking from something of a distance.
Someone who is people-oriented is likely to:
This person may be able to keep the audience’s attention longer than someone purely data-oriented, especially if the chosen topic is something the audience isn’t particularly interested in. However, the individual also runs the risk of being sidetracked.
If you’re an energetic presenter, you likely:
This person is, more than likely, an extrovert and natural speaker. This individual is probably very charismatic and can wrap the audience up in his or her vision, but there’s also the risk of the enthusiasm being a bit overwhelming.
If you are a reserved presenter, you likely:
A reserved presenter can easily come across as cold or distant, and is probably most comfortable working behind the scenes. This person is also probably more prone to being nervous than the energetic presenter. However, he or she is also less likely to come at the audience with too much information or energy to handle, and is probably able to slow down enough to give the audience time to grasp the information presented.
It’s likely you don’t fall cleanly into one category, but are a mixture of several. However, thinking about what sort of presenter you might be—even under blanket turns—allows you to take a step in the right direction. It’s the first step toward self-reflection and deciding what methods work best for you when giving a presentation.
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