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An Important Presentation Lesson from the Wizard of Oz

Updated: May 30, 2019

Remember the Wizard of Oz? If the plot escapes you, let me jog your memory a bit.


Quite simply, once she finds herself lost in a different land, Dorothy begins a journey to Oz in hopes of returning home. The directions to Oz are simple - follow the yellow brick road (cue the song in your head).


On her journey, Dorothy meets three friends. She convinces them all to travel with her to Oz, however, their reasons for joining the journey are quite different. Dorothy wants to go home. The scarecrow needs a brain, the tin man needs a heart, and the lion needs courage.


Four characters heading to the same destination, on the same road, but for very different reasons.


Presenters ought to learn at least two things here:


First, great presenters understand they must be clear on their destination and how they are going to get there. The best orators act like guides giving their audience a clear sense of direction and speak in such a way that the audience can follow their every turn until they reach the "magical land of Oz" (i.e. the main point of the speech).


Secondly, great presenters understand that everyone in their audience will join this journey for a different reason. The needs of each audience member differ from one another and from the presenter. So, then the presenter must offer compelling reasons why audience members should join the journey.


Like Dorothy, great presenters do not merely deliver information, they invite their audience to follow the yellow brick road to a destination that promises to answer their questions, solve their problems, or help them manage a tension more effectively.

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