Every presenter plays various roles and may even recruit assistants to fill-in additional roles that help make the presentation a memorable experience. The presenter’s role will vary depending on their presentation’s audience, purpose, and context – so let’s explore how these roles and responsibilities can change the way audiences engage with the presentation.
Different Presenter Roles
Facilitator: Good facilitators understand how to compile the necessary resources and insights to either drive discussion or inform decision making. Facilitators are generally good researchers that are familiar with the topic or challenge that is being presented.
Consequently, facilitators may not always be the most design savvy and may need assistance visualising the data in a way that helps audiences understand and retain the message. This presentation role is best suited for smaller, decision-maker audiences rather than massive auditoriums.
Persuader: This a much more sales-type role, trying to present a proposal or idea as the right choice. While there is some element of presenting research and data, it’s more critical being able to tap into audiences’ emotions – evoking thoughts and responses that are aligned with your presentation’s goals.
Persuaders aren’t always about selling and a product or service; this role is also about helping audiences understand why things are the way they are, such as company guidelines, training procedures, or the impact of change. The key goal is to align the audience’s understanding and feelings with your presentation’s purpose.
Coach: Not all training procedures need to necessarily be persuasive, which is where coach roles come in. Coaches understand how to motivate and educate, having a good grasp of how to explain something plainly while spurring the audiences towards action.
There’s a delicate balance between being instructional and inspiring – coaches are able to walk that line, conveying information in a way that personalises the experience for audiences, propelling them towards a new way of thinking, doing, and achieving.
Motivator: Much like coaches, this is about uplifting audiences through a compelling presentation and evocative delivery. If you’ve been asked to give a presentation that’ll inspire and drive change, your role is to motivate. Anyone who’s attended a conference has likely seen a motivator on stage at some point; the key is to be equal parts relatable and aspirational.
You cannot truly motivate without conveying some sense of empathy for the audience while showing them the value of adopting the new mindset you’re presenting to them. Motivators don’t necessarily have to come from positions of power or authority – it’s more about conveying a story or message that encourages others to see things your way.
Listener: While this may not seem like a true presenter role, sometimes the best thing presenters can do with an audience is listen to them – asking the right questions, addressing their concerns, and allow them to be heard. Facilitators and motivators often have a good idea of the challenges faced by their audiences, which is why they’ve been asked to present in the first place.
However, whether you’re training or inspiring people, listening to them first can be a powerful means for cutting through the noise and getting to the heart of what ails them. A good listener knows how to facilitate conversation while persuading people that their concerns will be heard, understood, and addressed. While most presentations are usually one-sided, listeners know how to involve audiences directly and provide a more interactive experience.
Responsibilities of Presenters
Audience understanding is the most important responsibility of any presenter, since the content and delivery will be greatly influenced by who’s in attendance. It’s important knowing what kinds of people are in the audience, what motivated them to hear your presentation, and how the presentation’s purpose aligns with those audience expectations.
If you’re presenting to an audience who are forced to be there (such as internal work meeting or a compulsory conference), then attention spans may be shorter, and you’ll have to work a little harder to capture and retain their engagement. However, if you’re presenting to a room full of paying attendees, then you already know people want to be there and have a genuine interest in what’s being presented. This means you have more room to be creative, explain details, and inject personality into the presentation.
Using narrative is a critical responsibility for any presenter as stories are the easiest way to ensure a presentation is heard and remembered by audiences. It can be challenging for people to retain a mass of facts, figures, and data – but using stories (whether personal or anecdotal), can help make the content more relatable and the information easier to remember afterwards.
While we regularly write about the important steps that go into planning and designing a presentation, people often forget about the presentation’s delivery. Even if you write and incredible script and design a beautiful slideshow, your audience won’t enjoy either if the delivery isn’t right. Getting your presentation delivery down pact is about practice – refining your speech and script until you feel confident enough to take the stage.
This doesn’t necessarily mean memorising the word; it’s simply about familiarising yourself with the content so you aren’t stressing about your wording, vocal projection, time use, or body language. Rehearsing in front of someone is a valuable means for finalising content and ensuring your delivery seems effortless.
Whether you enlist a family member, colleague, or friend – practising a presentation with someone else offers a multitude of benefits. You can see how someone will maintain attention, engaging with your script, slides, and stage presence. This can help with any public-speaking jitters you may have while acting as a sounding board for potential edits and amends.
Even if you can’t present to someone personally (thanks COVID), there are other options such as video calls, filming yourself and watching back, or even using AI, like PowerPoint’s Presenter Coach to sharpen your pace and delivery. While this can’t help with the visually side of your presentation, at least your speech will sound more refined and confident.
Need more assistance getting your presentation audience ready? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Presentation Preparation. Download it free here.