How to Modify Your Innovative Presentation for Thinker Personalities

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

Thinker types, who may make up your innovative presentation audience, frequent the fields of finance, law, engineering, science, and technology. After Directors, competent and successful Thinkers often occupy the C-suite, running major businesses and organizations.

The extreme left-brain human computer, Mr. Spock from Star Trek, is the epitome of the hyper-cerebral, but detached and impersonal archetype Thinker. Billionaire Bill Gates is, indeed, a full-blooded Thinker personality. Socially awkward, introspective geeks are another variation of quirky, sometimes neurotic Thinkers.

Here are the characteristics, traits, attitudes, and behaviors that define this extraordinarily logical, precise, and deliberate personality:

  • Objective, rational, methodical, and orderly

  • Cautious, skeptical, prove-it-to-me cynic

  • Traditional, conventional, slow to change, and risk-averse

  • Needs abundant, precise, and accurate empirical, hard-core proof

  • Slow and methodical in decision making — meticulous researcher and fact-checker

  • Serious, stoical, reserved, conservative — hides reactions and feelings (but can suddenly erupt with wacky or goofy humor or behavior when unguarded)

  • Craves discovering and solving complex, challenging problems

  • Can be inflexible and tends to see issues as black or white — no gray areas

  • Follows rules, methods, procedures, and protocols with little to no deviation

  • Prefers incremental changes to radical (game-changing) innovations

Thinkers pride themselves on being extremely smart, well-informed, and systematic ponderers who reach the crux of problems in a highly effective way. At their worst, Thinkers can be smug, self-righteous, rigid, and defensive people who obsessively nitpick the tiniest, insignificant details at the expense of the big picture.

Extreme Thinker types can come across as ice-cold robots who cannot feel or envision the emotional or irrational human side of issues. Although they try to hide it, they still possess human DNA, and even half-human Spock has a certain propensity for feelings, sentimentality, and compassion.

Thinkers can be snail-slow and ponderous in their evaluation of a problem or opportunity and unbelievably frustrating with their paralysis of analysis to those who want decisions, results, and actions quickly. On the positive side, Thinkers are conscientious, responsible, and diligent in their attention to those complex details that others dismiss or miss, and indispensably important in implementing solutions.

Thinkers excel at research, compiling data, and planning and, when working alongside other personality types, bring to successful completion visions, goals, and innovations of all kinds.

How to identify Thinkers within a minute in your innovative presentation

Thinkers’ body language, voice, and behavior typically show the following:

  • Subtle

  • Tendency to talk at a slow pace with a soft, often monotone voice

  • Reserved

  • Formal

  • Unemotional

  • Unexpressive

  • Unassertive

  • Questioning

How to best present to Thinkers in your innovative presentation

Thinkers respect and appreciate prepared, precise presenters who provide detailed information. They want objective, impartial data communicated in a sequential, logical, and methodical way that leads to a rational and justified conclusion. They want to understand the relationships, trends, and cause-and-effects brought about by useful, practical data.

You have to convince Thinkers of the outright feasibility and validity of your ideas, recommendations, or solutions with hardcore evidence. Thinkers require proof — and lots of it — from numerous, verifiable sources. Be quantitative in listing and explaining the benefits of your product offering or solution and describe the process or model that’s the basis of your recommendations or position.

Be sure to outline tangible consequences of a problem or situation in measurable terms and carefully calculate probabilities (remember Spock?). Stress the proven track record of programs or projects like yours, which validate your cause.

Always be prepared to answer questions in a detailed and concrete (not abstract or vague) fashion. During your presentation, avoid giving your (subjective) opinions, suppositions, attitudes, feelings — or worse yet — unsubstantiated speculation or assumptions on your topic. Instead, come across as strictly objective, impartial, unbiased, and open-minded — especially to feedback or counter-claims. Stick to the facts and your credibility will remain intact with Thinkers.

Also, Thinkers feel comfortable with a presenter who is non-assertive and open to being engaged. High-energy, in-your-face, fast-talking sales and motivational types are not welcome or respected by these personalities. Finally, remember that you often have to build an airtight case — like a lawyer in front of a jury — to convince Thinker types.

During a presentation to Thinkers:

  • Don’t rush them or pressure them to make a decision.

  • Don’t come across as flippant, cavalier, or jocular.

  • Don’t use personal or emotional appeals; such appeals seem weak and irrelevant to Thinkers.

  • Don’t make them defensive by directly challenging them or their expertise.

  • Don’t exaggerate, pontificate, or over-promise on anything.

When it comes to being creative during your presentation, some Thinkers will really enjoy it (finding it intellectually pleasing), while others might see it as detracting and distracting from the serious nature of the data.

Most Thinkers, though, like ingenious and imaginative ways of viewing a situation from a new and valid perspective. So if your media (such as compelling, unique visuals or video) helps clarify and solidify your points, Thinkers will welcome that form of creativity.

Don’t expect kudos and compliments from most of them, even though you labored over your presentation. Be ready for them to nit pick about some detail you failed to mention, even though the other personality types in your audience might be drooling over the awesome job you did. It’s just the Thinker’s style — nothing personal!