Why we need Head and Earth in a presentation?
For 5 minutes the whole class was trying to get some grip. Some of us already tuned out. Others were trying very hard to get to grips with what this presentation was actually about.
What was happening here? This presenter was not bad at all. Good voice, good contact, good gestures and he seemed to be connected to his text. He knew what he was talking about. How then was it possible that it did not sink in? How come none of us in the group could tell after 5 minutes what the heck this presentation was about? The sentences were correct, it all made sense. And still, the idea, the information did not come across at all.
What was the problem?
The problem was head talk, abstract talk. You know, politician talk, chockfull of jargon. It stayed flat, as if life was lacking.
We also need “down-to earth” talk in presentation, as I call it. What do I mean with this? I mean language that we can picture, that is grounded, that everybody understands. We need to appeal to both, to head and earth. Make your words and sentences accessible. Make the translation to what you mean on a abstract level to down-to earth language. We the audience crave for grounded talk.
This does not mean that you should talk as if you were speaking to a bunch of toddlers. And of course it also depends on your public and what you want to convey, to what you can permit yourself in this respect.
Still, I am a fervent defender of always underpinning or alternating the conceptual language with grounded talk. Because I firmly believe we as an audience need both.
As an example I can give a definition of foreign policy:
A policy pursued by a nation in its dealings with other nations, designed to achieve national objectives.
It is ok, not bad. But, see down below how Madeline Allbright, a true champ in making her word accessible, explains it:
“Foreign policy is making other countries do what you want.”
How refreshing and how down-to- earth this is. This is what sticks with me.
Do you want your words to remain floating in the air? Or do you want them to fall on the ground, so people can grab them? Do you want your audience to be able to retell your ideas at the dinner table at home and spread them? Then please put some “earth” in your presentation.