Speaking Lesson from Our GPS “Theresa Brown.”

When we rented a car for our San Francisco trip, we splurged and got a Garmin GPS system which we named “Theresa Brown.”  Unfortunately, Theresa Brown makes the same mistake that so many public speakers make: she doesn’t put the information in the context of her listeners’ lives. 

When we asked Theresa to take us to Berkeley, she began instructing us through the surface streets of San Francisco. The problem is that she asked us to turn left where there was a “No Left Turn” sign. She asked us to turn down one way streets. She asked us to go straight on a street when there was a barrier forcing us to turn right. 

Theresa has a map that may be technically correct. But she often doesn’t understand our real world enough to truly help us. 

So what did we do? We asked directions.  That usually solved the problem instantly. We asked a homeless man how to get to the highway and he told us “Go down two blocks and turn right.” 

I see so many presenters that are more like Theresa Brown than the homeless man. They deliver lots of technical information.  And it’s certainly accurate. But these “Theresas” utterly fail to truly help the listeners by telling them what it all means to them and what they need to do next.

As presenters, our first job is to help our audience, not deliver data.  

By the way, when you ask for directions in the city, be careful as this YouTube clip will show. 


Print Friendly, PDF & Email