Bottom line

Use examples often—audiences will usually remember the points you make with examples longer than anything else.

The last chapter gave you a good structure for a presentation—now let's talk about content. I can't help you much with your particular topic, but I can point out where the content of presentations usually goes wrong: it's too abstract.

Far too often, presentations fail because the speaker uses generalizations but no examples. Chapter 7 talked about using examples in writing; this chapter will talk about examples for presentations.

Generalizations alone rarely communicate. In fact, there's some interesting research on this point. Researchers had people read abstract writing and try to figure it out. While they were reading, the people expressed their thoughts aloud ("Hmmm. Wonder what that means . . ."). That way, the researchers could observe the thinking process.

Guess what happened? When the people came across an abstract idea, they tried to think of an example. In other words, they tried to make the meaning clear by turning abstract statements they didn't understand into concrete ones they did.

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As speakers, we're better off providing those examples ourselves. Examples take time, but not necessarily a lot. And there's no substitute for them when it comes to communication.

A close friend and respected communication consultant once said to me, "The two most common transitions in the language are however and therefore, but the most important is for example. "

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