Tag Archives: models

8 ways to give an audience a kit.

This is the first in an occasional series expanding on the 8 ways to get invited back post. I talked about several things to give audiences that will let you have another chance to speak.

Lots of people really like Ikea. Good design. Functional products. When people buy from Ikea, they often get boxes. Several boxes. These boxes don’t look like what they see in the store. They look like boxes full of boards and bags.You get a kit. A very simple kit.

Many of us grew up building cars. Small cars. From Revell. We could never afford a real Mustang, but we could build one. Paint it. Keep it on our shelf.  We got a kit. A more complicated, less expensive kit than the Ikea.

Whether we want the look of fine furniture or the delight of owning a model of a dream, lots of people want kits.

a thinking kitLots of people want life kits, too. They go to a presentation wanting to learn how to build their own success, their own model of your project, your story, your company. They attend a workshop promising that they will “walk away with a website/book idea/practical hand-on applications.” They take a class to learn math formulas or programming shortcuts. They want to build a resume.

They don’t want to do all the hard work of measuring and cutting and drilling and stamping from scratch. They know that they will still look like you, but that’s fine. They want something that works.

(Lest you think this is something I am ridiculing, one of my best examples is what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father.” Jesus, in the middle of a longer teaching, says “here’s a prayer model.” It can be used as is. It can be expanded on. It has proved to be pretty durable.)

If you are doing that for people, you are giving them a kit. To make that kind of presentation successful, whether it lasts 15 minutes or a day or a semester, here are 8 guidelines:

1. Provide all the necessary pieces.

Every board. Every screw. Every necessary idea or relationship or reference or example or theorem needs to be included in your presentation to give to your listeners. Whatever you want them to be able to build, whether it’s a plastic car or a business plan or a dream, has to made available to them.

2. Include adequate directions.

This is a linear kind of presentation. First you find this piece, then you add this piece. You aren’t trying to be creative, you are trying to be clear. So please be clear.

3. Make sure they are in the language of the kitbuilder, not the designer.

Ever read translated directions? They make us laugh. Then they make us cry. Use words that your audience knows. This isn’t the time to impress, it’s the time to not lose anyone.

4. Provide spare parts of the kind most likely to get lost.

A good kit always has some spare bolts or nuts or washers. A speaker giving a kit gives repetition.  At those points where people are most likely to be confused, repeat. If they are likely to drop the line of thinking, pick it up for them with a clarification, a reconnection to your theme.

5. Have someone who understands test the kit.

Many of us hate to do a presentation more than once. I understand. But you’re trying to give away understanding. You are trying to give success. So have someone who knows what you are talking about listen and critique.

6. Have someone who doesn’t understand test the kit.

What? Present again? Exactly. If you are going to help 30 people build this kit, this model, you need to have someone who is like them in ignorance test it. Otherwise you will frustrate 30 people.

7. Include a picture of the completed kit.

There are some jigsaw puzzles that come in plain white boxes. The challenge is the point. In most cases, however, you want to give your audience a picture of what the business plan or the prayer or the lifeplan will look like, sound like. That way, they can see whether they are getting it right.

8. Show how it can be customized.

Once you have clearly shown how to assemble the kit, show them how to make it their own. What kind of paint works best? What wears out? What do you with the geometry when you are measuring a lot rather than a piece of paper? How does this scale?


Do you give people kits when you speak or teach? How do you make sure the audience understands? What kind of kits are you giving?