Show and Tell

Summary Written by Hélène Egan
"At any presentation, the audience is investing a part of their lives in us. Let’s give them a show."

- Show and Tell, page 255

The Big Idea

Help others see what you see

"The best gift we can give ourselves is learning how to show and tell. The best gift we can give one another is an extraordinary presentation."- Show and Tell, page 256

There are three simple rules to creating an extraordinary presentation:

  1. Tell the truth – Telling the truth in our presentations is to lead with the heart. It’s where we communicate our passion, our excitement, and it’s the foundation of engagement.
  2. Tell it with a story – Using the story to communicate our ideas makes the concepts clear, and the ideas more memorable. A story is a way of structuring, and it includes the listener.
  3. Tell the story with pictures – Help the audience see what you mean by using pictures. They can see what you see, and then some! Using pictures captures the imagination. And that brings us back to engagement.

Insight #1

Lead with a story and understanding will follow

"After we’ve finished presenting, how do we want our audience to be different from when we started?"- Show and Tell, page 40

This is the question that needs to be answered in order to pick the right storyline. Roam makes it easy. He outlines that each storyline has the same elements: main idea, main storyline, supporting ideas, one last hook. How these elements are presented, and how they support each other, makes for the difference in what we want our audience to hear. There are four different storylines:

  1. The Report presents data. This is intended to change the audience’s information.
  2. The Explanation shares knowledge. It tells the audience about something, or how to do something.
  3. The Pitch shares a problem as well as the solution. It’s persuasive. With the pitch, the objective is to change the audience’s actions.
  4. The Drama takes the audience on a journey. Changing the audience’s beliefs is the goal with the pitch.

Determining the right storyline suddenly makes crafting this presentation relatively straightforward. When you know that you are presenting a Report, you have no need to try to fit that into a Drama outline. That would feel like putting a square peg into a round hole!

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Insight #2

Lead with the eye and the mind will follow

"The ideal picture is as simple as a clear sentence. It enters our eye and tells a story. It doesn’t call much attention to itself."- Show and Tell, page 233

According to Roam, “In order to illustrate any story, we need only six pictures.”

Use the appropriate pictures depending on the question/topic we are illustrating. If we are talking about…

  • Who/What? = Portrait. Shows our players and objects.
  • How much? = Chart. Shows how much there is.
  • Where? = Map. Shows where they are located and overlap.
  • When? = Timeline. Shows their sequence in time.
  • How? = Flowchart. Shows the chains of cause, effect, and influence.
  • Why? = Equation. Shows the moral of the story.

This makes it so easy! What are you trying to illustrate? Choose the appropriate picture. You then have options. Will it be a photo, a graphic or a drawing? Feel free to be creative. However, don’t miss this step. We’ve all heard it time and again. We know that too many words on a slide can be painful to look at. We’ve had to do it too many times! So, now you know what to do. What are you trying to illustrate? Choose the picture. Choose the type of picture. Illustrate your presentation.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I learned from this little book full of illustrations. It’s full of very applicable concepts, quite logically presented. Putting even a few of the ideas into practice will most certainly improve any presentation. Although the author spends little time on the skill of presenting in this book, he sets us up for success with the format for the presentation. And, I believe he’s right when he says “when we trust our idea and are confident, we will enjoy our time onstage and we will help our audience change.”

Read the book

Get Show and Tell on Amazon.

Dan Roam

“I believe that any problem can be solved with a picture. And that anybody can draw it.”

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