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Great Presenting: Enthusiasm or Entertainment?

Entertaining presenter

Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
—Douglas MacArthur

Teacher enthusiasm has long been identified as a behavior that positively effects student learning (Carlise & Phillips, 1984). However, with electronic devices competing for participants’ attention, should trainers and presenters strive not for enthusiasm, but instead to be more entertaining? It all depends on what you want as a trainer or presenter.

What’s the Difference Between Enthusiasm and Entertainment?

Enthusiasm is about expressing your passion for the subject. You ignite participants through showing your own zest. You may even experiment by doing things outside of your comfort zone in order to pass on your excitement.

Entertainment is all about you. Do you want the participants to like you? Can you make them laugh? Do you treasure the feeling that you are “wowing” them with your personality and/or skills? Do you want to be remembered as a great performer?

Three Tips to Spark Your Own Enthusiasm

Many, but not all, trainers and presenters show a preference for modeling authentic enthusiasm over simply providing entertainment. With that in mind, here’s how to pump your enthusiasm when you train or present.

Be Authentic, But Be “Bigger”
Tie in pieces of your personality while pumping up your personal energy. Don’t just use your head, use your entire body when you present. (Read “Speaker Energy: Make it Work For You” for tips.)

Re-Discover Your Own Compelling Reasons
Why are you teaching or presenting? Create your own definition of success for what you do.

Forget Baseball, Play Frisbee Instead
Don’t just pitch your content to students. Instead, create a reciprocal energy flow. Toss out  “Frisbees” of content, and then encourage participants to do so as well–not only back to you, but also to each other.

Concentrate on the Intrigue of Your Subject Matter

As a trainer, presenter or facilitator, your enthusiasm motivates participants. Their energy rises to meet yours. Your session is memorable…authentically.


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