Watched a presenter last week open (first slide and everything) with “Well, let’s tell you what this seminar is NOT about” and proceeded to go through a pretty comprehensive list of what he would NOT cover. 

We all have things we don’t intend to cover, would prefer not to cover, and will never cover in our talks.  It’s better not to lead with exposing those things, though.

Leading with the negative:

  • Sets a negative tone for the talk
  • Draws attention to things that might have gone unnoticed
  • Gives the audience an impression we don’t desire discussion
  • Takes the focus OFF the things we WANT to cover

Yes, caveats do head some things off at the pass, and if those things are pink elephants (everyone notices but no one wants to talk about it), we can garner some brownie points for addressing it head on.  But most of the time, it only serves to make our audience mad.  Far better to give them an idea of what they WILL get and give them a reason to listen.

Open with positive, motivating reasons to pay attention.

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