Warning: Hidden Agendas Can Kill Your Presentation

Warning: Hidden Agendas Can Kill Your Presentation

Even if you don’t think you have them.

If a good friend asked you to get into a car with them but wouldn’t tell you where you were going or how you were getting there, I think it’s safe to say at the very least that you would make a funny face and probably not get in the car.

Well, in lots of cases, presenters (usually complete strangers, not good friends) are asking their audiences to jump into the car with them and not saying how they’ll get to where they’re going.

Luckily, though, you’ll be ahead of the game after you learn about hidden agendas and how to fix them.

In a whitepaper on the subject, retired communication professor, Bill Baker, writes, “Everyone has an agenda . . . The problem arises in how the presenter chooses to communicate the agenda with the audience.”

When you don’t reveal your agenda, your audience can’t adequately prepare itself for your presentation. They’ll always be one step behind and trying to catch up. You don’t want that, though.

Why? Well, soon after your audience falls behind, they’ll check out completely. In other words, they won’t trust you. Without their trust, you can’t inspire concern in them, and they’ll never really care about your presentation.

Revealing your agenda is the easy solution. Just tell them where the presentation is going to take them.

Baker suggests that there are four ways to organize your agenda to help your audience understand it better:

  • Identify. Name the segments of your presentation.
  • Quantify. Give your audience numbers.
  • Organize. Let your audience know how your presentation is organized.
  • Symbolize. Use a story or metaphor to get your audience to visualize your presentation.

As you let your audience know what your agenda is, you’ll see just how much they really do care about your presentation.