You’ve 3 gifts for your audience. Which should you give them? That depends…

3 wrapped giftsYou might’ve heard presentation coaches say your talk should make your audience think, feel, or do something different. And I think they’re right – to a degree.

By the way, thinking, feeling or doing something different aren’t exactly what I meant as the gifts mentioned in this post’s title. More on that shortly.

Why do I add that proviso – “to a degree”? Well, there’s no point making your audience just think or feel something – unless they act on it too.

For instance, let’s look at an extreme example to illustrate my point:

Suppose you work in drug and alcohol education, and you’re speaking in front of a group of alcoholics. You manage to inspire them with your own story of coming back from the brink, and you fill them with hope for the future.

Naturally though, that’s only a help to them if they act on the inspiration and the hope you’ve given them. So, they need to turn their own lives around, rather than staying on their self-destructive path.

In essence, the same’s true of any talk – and for any audience: They’re the ones who need to put your words into action.


Let’s turn this thing around

You might’ve noticed that the phrase “think, feel, or do” focuses on how your audience responds, rather than on what you say. So, to help you present, I tend to translate the phrase into something more focused on your viewpoint.

That’s why I like to say that as a speaker, you can give your audience 3 gifts:

  • Insight
  • Instruction
  • Inspiration

In other words:

  • Insight is what you can present to help people think something different.
  • Instruction is what you can present to help them do something different.
  • Inspiration is what you can present to help them feel something different.


“That depends” – on what?

For most talks, you’ll likely use content from each of those 3 dimensions. But their proportions will vary, depending on the type of talk you’re giving (as I hinted at in the title of this post).

For instance:

  • If you’re giving a keynote speech, you’ll tend to focus on insight or inspiration.
  • If you’re running a workshop, you’re likely to focus much more on instruction.


Over to you

So, when you prepare for a talk, be sure to consider what type of talk your audience is expecting. You can then vary your content types to help get the expected outcome.

For more tips and insights on how to do that, check out the history of the 3 gifts, below


A potted history

I thought you might like to know that the ideas in this post – simple as they are – have taken me years to refine! They began when I first developed the logo for my blog, almost 8 years ago:

Remote Possibilities icon: equilateral triangle pointing to the left, with a green corner at the top, blue at the bottom, and red on the left

The logo represents the different content types in any presentation. Here’s what the colours meant originally:

  • Blue – “fact” – logical content and data, what you might call “cold hard facts”
  • Green – “act” – actionable content, with green being inspired by traffic lights
  • Red – “react” – emotional content, with red being inspired by fire and blood!

I liked how fact, act, and react all rhyme, which makes them catchy and easier to remember. But I didn’t like that they’re different parts of speech.

So sometime later, I came up with the terms below instead. Each one’s the part of the body associated with logical, actionable, or emotional content respectively:

  • Blue – head
  • Green – hand
  • Red – heart

Today, the 3 gifts (as I call them) are the most recent refinement of the colours’ meanings:

  • Blue – insight – helpful interpretation of facts, rather than just the facts themselves
  • Green – instruction – action steps or shortcuts (at your audience’s skill level)
  • Red – inspiration – emotional content (+ve or -ve) to inspire audience action

Over the years, then, the 3 terms have gone from all having the same suffix so they rhyme (fact, act, react), to all having the same 1st letter (head, hand, heart), to all having the same 3-letter prefix (insight, instruction, inspiration).

Which of those 3 versions do you think’s the catchiest or the easiest to remember?
By all means drop me a comment below to share your views


Also check out


2 thoughts on “You’ve 3 gifts for your audience. Which should you give them? That depends…

    • Thanks Diane – it’s great to get your feedback, so thanks for posting.

      I’m always drawn to clever content, such as a recurring prefix (like “ins-”), but maybe “insight, instruction, inspiration” are just too long and abstract for their own good!

      Reminds me of Marie Forleo on being clear rather than clever, in her Copy Cure video. And of Olivia Mitchell’s advice on using concrete phrases rather than abstract ones, which I wrote about here.

      In the 2nd of those links, I even added a tip about avoiding words ending with “-ion”, so I think I need to heed my own advice!


What’s YOUR view?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.