Persuasive presentations explore the “how,” not the “what.”

Consider this: Which student knows more about the Civil War? The student who can tell you the date the war began, the names of major generals for the north and the south, and the dates of all the most famous battles or the student who can engage in a discussion about the reasons the war was fought?

We would all choose the latter. It’s more important to teach a student how they should think, than what to think. Similarly, presentations that convey ideas seek to answer the “how” and the “why” questions; not just the “who, what, when, and where.”

Two presentations that illustrate this perfectly are Brene Brown’s 2010 TED talk on vulnerability, and Sir Ken Robinson’s 2010 TED talk about education. Brown could have chosen to share a presentation full of information from her six years of research on connection, shame, and vulnerability. Instead, she unveils the idea that vulnerability is absolutely essential to living an authentic, wholehearted life by delivering a stirring and humorous talk about the personal breakdown she went through as a result of her research.

Robinson’s presentation takes a similar approach. Rather than pummeling the audience with facts from his years of experience as an educator, he shares a metaphor that illustrates the idea that education must be customized and personalized to help each individual student flourish.

Why did these presentations succeed? Because Brown and Robinson chose to convey new ideas, instead of just facts alone. They chose to go deeper than who and what and got down to the how and why.

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