Is it Presentations vs Demonstrations, or Presentations & Demonstrations? By John Hackett

Is it Presentations vs Demonstrations, or Presentations & Demonstrations?

This month’s question is a fascinating one to consider because it reminds me of many a discussion I had as a school administrator with our district’s attorney over legal questions. I often heard the response,” Well John, It depends” on a question. I think that response, although a bit maddening then, may be appropriate here.

Presenting information and demonstrating how to use the information are both useful vehicles to introduce information depending on your goals and who your audience is and what their needs are. If your audience only needs information the presentation mode can be very appropriate to accomplish that purpose.  This mode does carry a considerable caveat as Ben Franklin noted above. Information can be easily misinterpreted or quickly forgotten. A demonstration is a necessity if your goal is for your team, audience, students, workshop participants to be able to see, learn and apply information and use it in other situations.

My wife, Becki, is a very successful sales director in Mary Kay. A consultant or customer may call from time to time with a question. A quick presentation gets them the information. Many demonstrations occur at our house or other locations where Becki presents the information and also has her consultants or customers participate in the demonstration . I usually observe a large amount of engagement and laughter in these situations. Becki and her team note that a presentation and demonstration approach allows them to practice and learn how to apply the information.

They note that presentation, getting the information is vital but in the demonstration knowing how to use the information or in her case product is fun, engaging and reinforces learning and transfers to other situations.

My experiences as a presenter, professor and workshop facilitator mirror Becki’s. I have found that presenting the information is necessary. Learning to see or use the information in practice is essential. This process of presentation and demonstration engages the audience and provides a hands-on practice opportunity which increases the likelihood of learning and transfer of that learning to other situations. Leaders who present information clearly and engage their team, school, unit, church by demonstration enhance the learning, and add value and effectiveness of that organizations. If we do this we will meet the two fundamental roles of a leader noted by Mark Miller Vice-President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, build people up and get things done.

The question for you then may not be is a presentation or demonstration method better. The question may be how am I using both presentations and demonstrations effectively to help those I lead? Do I clearly present the information and is the demonstration engaging and reinforcing learning and action?


Maxwell, J.C. (2017) Developing the Leader within You 2.0 Nashville, Tn. Harper Collins

Miller, M (2017) Leaders Made Here Berrett-Koehler Publishers.Inc, Oakland Ca.

   John Hackett, Ed. D is an accomplished and experienced coach, trainer, writer, and leader in a variety of educational and other nonprofit and direct sales settings. He has 49 years of professional experience. He has trained, coached, and consulted with school districts, universities, social service agencies, and churches and direct sales organizations, police departments, and law firms. He is a growing, learning entrepreneur in coaching and training who is passionate about equipping leaders to develop other leaders to serve.

 He has been married for 42 years to Becki, a 41-year entrepreneur, and has three daughters and two grandsons. John is also a long-distance, open water swimmer and auquabike triathlon competitor

John is a certified trainer and coach by the Direct Selling World Alliance. John is the Director of Coaching with the FUSE  Business Training Group and a member of the John Maxwell Team. He can be contacted to provide training, coaching or consulting ;

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