Updated: Nov 25, 2020
There are a lot of variables to consider when evaluating a presenter, but awareness and intention are among the most consequential. Based on these two variables, I've divided all presenters into four common presenter archetypes so that you can think about how you approach the skill of speaking. But before figuring out where you currently fit, you need to know what I mean by awareness and intention.
When it comes to speaking, most people are relatively unaware. They tend to be in their head and focused on their content. Because their awareness is limited, they have little control over the skill. An aware speaker shifts their focus around from their content to the behaviors they are producing to the subtle responses of their listeners. They can choose to track what their voice, face or hands are doing and then quickly shift their focus to the facial gestures and body language of the people in their audience. This high level of awareness gives them a high degree of control in the skill of speaking.
Most presenters have a self-based intention. They are driven, often under the surface, by their status among the group and protecting their ego. The mainstream write-and-recite approach to presentations encourages this mindset by treating the act of speaking as a performance.
Service-based presenters are driven to deliver value to their listeners for the purpose of enhancing their listeners' lives.
They have a generous intention. They are willing to be vulnerable and to take risks to help the people in their audience. They gravitate toward a conversational approach to presentations.
The Four Archetypes
The Also-ran Also-rans tend to conform to expectations and, therefore, produce forgettable presentations. Most presenters fall into this category.
The Try-hard Try-hards are willing to be less conventional but tend to be reliant on tricks and techniques. Although more dynamic, their presentations feel contrived and awkward.
The Showman Showmen/women strive to master the mainstream write-and-recite model. Their presentations are polished but feel a lot like canned recordings.
The Mentor Mentors are present, open and willing to be spontaneous. Their listeners feel a part of a unique and memorable conversation.
As you can clearly see, I have a strong philosophy about what is what isn't desirable in a presenter. It isn't my intention to put anyone down; it's my intention to challenge you to be better. You can develop your awareness and your intention to become a Mentor speaker. It takes determination and practice, but you can do it. The question is, do you want to badly enough?