Seth Godin: The Hierarchy of Presentations

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are international bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites and I highly recommend it.

Seth consistently produces an amazing amount of thought-provoking articles every week, much of which is relevant for public speakers. Look for his posts to be reproduced here from time to time (with full credit, of course).

In this post from 15 April 2009, Seth gives us his hierarchy of presentations, from best to worst. It makes for provocative reading, not least because, in Seth’s opinion, the best presentation is no presentation at all!

There is a lot of wisdom packed into the short post below. Whether you agree with his list or not, one thing about which there should be no disagreement is Seth’s description of a presentation as “a precious opportunity” and “a privilege”.

Make the most of your next one!


The Hierarchy of Presentations

by Seth Godin

A presentation is a precious opportunity. It’s a powerful arrangement … one speaker, an attentive audience, all in their seats, all paying attention (at least at first). Don’t waste it.

The purpose of a presentation is to change minds. That’s the only reason I can think of to spend the time and resources. If your goal isn’t to change minds, perhaps you should consider a different approach.

  1. The best presentation is no presentation at all. If you can get by with a memo, send a memo. I can read it faster than you can present it and we’ll both enjoy it more.
  2. The second best presentation is one on one. No slides, no microphone. You look me in the eye and change my mind.
  3. Third best? Live and fully interactive.
  4. Powerpoint or Keynote, but with no bullets, just emotional pictures and stories.
  5. And last best… well, if you really think you can change my mind by using tons of bullets and a droning presentation, I’m skeptical.

A presentation isn’t an obligation, it’s a privilege.

Seth Godin


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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1 Response to Seth Godin: The Hierarchy of Presentations

  1. Pingback: Customer-Focus Means "Conversations, Not Pitches" - Jack Vincent

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