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Giving a Good Presentation is Not Your Real Purpose

Karen Hough Posted by Karen Hough.

Karen Hough is the CEO of ImprovEdge, an Amazon #1 bestselling author and contributor to the Huffington Post. She is a Yale graduate and international speaker.

Giving a Good Presentation is Not Your Real Purpose

Karen Hough's Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever is on sale until September 28th, for 50% off, as part of our "It's Cool to Be Human" book collection. Learn more here.  

“Good” is to a presentation as “Fine” is to a compliment. Your Purpose is to make something happen!

Let me guess – you hate giving presentations? Or some boss told you once that you mess up all the rules you learned in your Presentation 101 class? And you think you’re a bad presenter, even though you do have something important to share? If only you could just stop shaking and sweating…


You have more potential to be an authentically engaging, and impressive presenter than any polished fake. The key is to break the rules that keep you hamstrung and reconsider what’s important.  In my book, we help you to break rules! And then find out how to get to the passionate, effective presenter I know you can be.

The rule, "Your purpose is to give a good presentation" is mired in technicality. There you stand, waiting to give a presentation, and you’re obsessed with all the wrong things: your slides show every number in existence, you stand up straight behind the podium, say everything in order, don’t cross the beam of the projector…in other words, give a “good” presentation.

Let’s reconsider why we are there. What is your true purpose? Decide what the audience should walk away and do because you stood there and made a difference. Your purpose is the destination. It’s the “so what” for the audience. Consider how much stronger a presentation would be if you walked in with a singular purpose to:
- Entertain the youth club so much they enter the go-cart competition
- Convince the budget committee to raise your departmental budget by 10%
- Anger the community council so they enact restrictions to limit toxic dumping

Purpose helps you focus. When you have a clear goal, you can great rid of the extraneous slides, unrelated facts and useless details. If you want your budget to be increased by 10%, don’t review all department budgets, the marketing plan and the company picnic. Talk about your success and map out how you would leverage the extra dollars for the benefit of the company.

So keep it simple. It’s best to walk in with one clear purpose, accomplish that and move on to other at another time. I’ve seen presenters walk in with 3, 4 or 5 goals and guess what happens. Nothing. The audience walks out not knowing what to do.

Last note: Apply this to your meetings as well. A strong, singular purpose can drive a really impressive sit-down meeting, not just a formal presentation. Purpose is the ace in the hole, and this video gives you an example for clarifying your purpose.