Reading Andy Goodman’s “Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes” reminded me of my post on the Scottish nonprofit Engage’s national ad campaign.

Goodman says most presenters start with the question “What do I want to say?” And starting here is fatal.

You may craft an incredible message but it will be totally ineffective and fall on deaf ears. People have enough going on already. They aren’t concerned with what you have to say.

Sorry if that’s hard.

But think of yourself. When you go to a seminar, do you want to hear what they speaker is saying? Or are you more interested in fixing a problem you have? It may seem a slight difference but the impact this can have on our story telling is incredible.

Goodman recommends that when you give a presentation, picture yourself taking the audience on a journey from where they ARE to where you want them to be. Taking them from point A to point B.

A is what they are thinking and feeling when the enter the room. B is what you want them to think, feel, and do when they leave.

The key is starting where THEY are, not where you are.

This takes discipline. For example, in fundraising, it’s far easier to start where you are. You’re committed to the cause and you know the financial need. It’s the center of your universe. If you simply tell your story from this mindset, you create ad campaigns that beat up on “them” for not being generous to your cause. Sort of like mugging a prospect, isn’t it?

When was the last time you gave money to a cause because you were beat up on by the development staff?

So when you tell your stories, present your case, make the ask, start where they are. If you’re not sure, ask them. Go to where they are. Get out of your office. Get on the phone. Engage in emails. Survey. Whatever it takes to find out where they are at.

One technique many of my seminar attendees find helpful is the Rule of Threes. An online copy is at Why not commit to re-telling your story starting from where your prospects are in your first 100 days of 2007?The clock is ticking!

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