Dear Latimer: Our Answers to Your Questions

Hello friends! We recently added a new element to our website, where you can submit your communication questions directly to us. We will collect the questions, and either answer directly back to you, or when appropriate, publish a series of questions and our answers on our blog. Our goal here is to give you some quick support and answer your most pressing questions about the all-important skill of persuasive communication.

So, fire away with those questions, and we look forward to hearing from you. If you want to submit a question, look for the “Dear Latimer” box on the right side of the screen on our blog page.

Have a great day! ~Dean and Hannah

Dear Latimer,

In almost every presentation I give in my role, there’s a template I have to use, with some standard slides I HAVE to use. These templates are awful – totally full of useless information, and the standard slides go against everything I learned in your course.



We’ve seen those templates and we know what you’re talking about. It’s a classic story of the need to create comprehensive documentation of processes taking precedence over the need to communicate vital information and drive action. But you don’t have to let it get you off track…

First, from the message perspective, the templates often set the chapter structure of the content, but still give you important opportunities at the open and the close. Focus on the takeaways and high-level themes you want to leave with the audience and make sure you summarize those both up front and at the end, even if the template doesn’t explicitly support that. We’ve heard excellent executive summary opens delivered on agenda slides, for example.

Second, from the slide perspective, if the expectation is to follow the template, then we recommend doing so. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be thoughtful about keeping word count low and highlighting what you want the audience to see with boxes, borders, arrows, bold, etc. With some audiences, you can even get away with some basic animation (nothing fancy though!) to focus audience attention and build your narrative. And if you have callout/key-point boxes available, use them.

Third, from a delivery perspective, opening with an executive summary should reduce the number of interruptions you face. That open is all about addressing the things they want to know most, right up front. But if the interruptions persist (and depending on who is doing the interrupting), come prepared with statements you can use to redirect, for example, “That is an area I would be happy to explore with you further once I’ve had the chance to address this opportunity.” For more senior audiences, however, you will do best to respond to their questions on the spot.

And we have heard tales of people proposing updated versions of templates that have ultimately been adopted, so you never know! It might be worth a try.

Here are a couple more posts that speak to these points in more detail:

Hope this works for you!

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.