Tell me Why

No, not the Beatles song.

This is my single most important recommendations for speakers.  If I devote an hour of my life to attend your talk, answer the ‘why?’ question.

We’ve all heard that there are only a few important questions to answer in a presentation, article, blog post, or anything else:

Who?
What?
When?
Where?
How?
Why?

I’m going to make the bold assumption that most of you are developers, and therefore most of your presentations are technical talks.  If you are going to present something, tell me why I should be interested in your talk:

Why should I spend more time learning this topic?
Why will this topic help me do my job better?
Why will this topic change my life?

Concentrate on Why because it’s all you have time for. In most talks, you have an hour.  You can’t make the audience experts in a new topic in an hour. Your goal should be to pique their interest enough to motivate them to learn more. If you concentrate on Why? you’ll touch many of the other questions as well.  You’ll probably show me how the technology works. You’ll demonstrate what it is. If it’s a beta, you’ll tell me something about when it will be available. And, you’ll almost certainly tell me what it is.

Answering why will also make it easier for you to tell a story. You won’t just be spouting disjointed facts, you’ll be creating the situations around when your topic will help me.

Answer that important Why question. You’ll be a better speaker, and you’ll get your attendees to take action.

Created: 3/8/2011 7:09:05 PM

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