The triple stakes of great presentations

by Pierre Morsa

The best presentations have three stakes, three reasons “why” they are important:

  • The first stake is about you: why is the topic important for you? This is the reason you, and not somebody else, is on stage to deliver the presentation.
  • The second stake is about your audience: why is it important for them? This is the reason why your audience is there to listen to you instead of doing something else. This is why they should care about your topic.
  • The third stake is about everyone else: why does it truly matter outside of the audience and you? What is the impact of your topic on the world?

If you forget the first stake, then you will not feel engaged. If you forget the second stake, then your audience will not be interested. If you forget the third stake, then nobody else will care about your presentation.

Take for example a talk about the environmental impact of plastic bottles. If you don’t care about that topic, you don’t have the first stake. Most probably you shouldn’t even be on stage. The second stake is about “why is the topic of plastic bottles important for you, the audience?” Maybe it’s so we each realize how much plastic we waste each year. Maybe it’s because it has direct consequences on our health. The third stake brings perspective. It shows that the problem is not just about a bunch of people in the room, but impacts everyone, even living organisms that are located thousands of kilometers from where the bottle was thrown away. These organisms are essential for our own survival.

Great presentations are delivered by someone who cares, to people who will care, about something worth caring about. If the stakes are low, nothing much will happen. If all three stakes are high, then you give yourself a chance of making an impact.

Three Stakes