Presentations: Setting Expectations

Presentations: Setting Expectations

Let's try a quick experiment.  I'm going to show you a few sentences, and I want you to tell me what question popped into your head as you read each one.  


1. Hey, last week, I made 12 million dollars.



2. Every economics department needs a regular consignment of rivets.




3. It happens in the spring.



For most people, here is the question each sentence provoked:

1. How?

2. Why?

3. What?


By simply saying something--anything, really--I set your expectations about what I would say next.  "How did you make 12 million dollars last week?" you wondered.  So you wouldn't like it if, instead of answering that question, I launched into a 10-minute speech on why making 12 million dollars was so great for me.


It's the same way in a talk.  The words on your slides and the ones you speak will spark questions in your audience's mind, and therefore create expectations about what you are going to say next.  It's up to you to make sure they are sparking the right question for everyone. 


How can you make sure of that?  Just ask.  Ask colleagues what questions popped into their heads when they saw your slides or heard you speak.










Post by Varanya Chaubey
Image By Lee De Forest [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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For the women and men in academia...