Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are All Presentations Created Equal?

I just facilitated a customized presentation skills program for regional sales managers of a very large medical device company.

Their objectives were to understand the differences and similarities between these types of presentations:

 management vs. leadership
 formal vs. informal
 informative vs. persuasive
 face to face vs. phone, web, etc.

The irony -- although they are different, the bottom line is the same.

All types of presentations have two things in common:

1) A message to structure and develop to achieve a result

2) Delivery that engages the audience members and accomplishes the goal

Is it possible to give presentations that are a combination of management and leadership, informative and persuasive?


It comes down to what you want that audience walking away knowing, doing and feeling.

Should you prepare less because it’s informal?

Not really.

It’s always respectful to your audience (be it one or many) to be clear about your objectives and to deliver the message with clarity and enthusiasm.

In future blogs, I’ll get more specific about the differences and similarities between management and leadership presentations, and ways to be effective while presenting.

If you want to bring this custom “Speaking to Lead” program to your team, let us know!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Visual Aids 101: Help, Not Hinder Your Next Presentation

Are you suffering from “death by PowerPoint?”

Many people in corporate America are.

You know the symptoms … yawning participants during your slide shows or distant looks from half of the audience who are staring at your screen like zombies.

Let’s be real. Personally, I've never heard, “Oh good – another slide!” I’m sure you would agree.

So, where is the problem?

I believe that most presenters create their slides and think they have a presentation.


What they should be doing is writing the presentation, and then determining where a slide would add value, impact and interest.

When audience members need specific information to study, and to share with others, give them the complicated details in advance, or at the end of the presentation. Then, simplify when presenting.

What are some guidelines?

•Use pictures (personal photographs or high-end, online stock images) whenever possible – as long as they reinforce the message.

•Use charts and graphs to help explain trends, statistics, or any other numbers.

•Limit the bullet points.

•Use the “B” key to blank out the screen. It pulls the attention back to the speaker.

•Start and end with no slide, so you can make the personal connection with the audience.

Slides are tools – and shouldn’t be used as a crutch. Remember, they are visual aids – not presentations.

Your audience will thank you for not having them suffer a tedious “death by PowerPoint.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Executive Presentation Skills: Inform, Inspire & Persuade

I recently did a blog on the topic of executive presentations.

Exactly what separates an executive presentation from any other?

Not much.

Perhaps it’s just the title of the person presenting the material – or, speaking at the board level.

After all, every presentation has a purpose. The goal as a speaker is to determine what the purpose is.

As an executive, I may want to …

•Inform my organization about what is going on within the organization (to inform)
•Inspire trust and loyalty in my employees
•Encourage people to buy into a plan or product purchase

Over all, it’s all about informing, inspiring and persuading.

Aristotle described the principles of Logos/Ethos/Pathos.

Logos translates into logic. Every great speaker needs to be easy to follow (logical), and filled with evidence and reason. That alone can inform an audience.

To move people as well, to truly inspire them, requires the added use of Pathos. Emotional appeals, stories, and examples which hit the heart, will do that.

Then, there is the credibility factor of the presenter (Ethos). Even if an executive delivers an excellent presentation, if the audience doesn’t trust the person – the presentation will fall on deaf ears.

Position alone isn’t enough to inspire.

An executive who is believable, trustworthy, and admirable, will have a much easier time of giving an inspirational presentation.

So, being an executive speaker really just boils down to 3 things:

1)Being an executive.
2)Having a well-organized message that is relevant, inspirational and believable.
3)Delivering the message in an attentive manner -- showing passion, enthusiasm and credibility.

Why make things more difficult than they have to be?

If you need help turning a lackluster presentation into a memorable, executive-level experience, sign up for my 1-hour webinar on September 14 (12:30-1:30 pm EST): “How to Present Your Ideas Persuasively to Better Influence Others at Work.”

Monday, August 3, 2009

Presentation Skills Pointer: Fresh Delivery Requires Preparation & Practice

I am often asked if I give the same presentation each time I present.

Although there might be a benefit to do so regarding saving time, my answer is, “No.”

Every audience I face is different, and I need to adjust my message accordingly. The material also needs to be fresh – not only updated from a current events’ perspective, but also fresh in my mind.

I have seen too many speakers who were on “auto pilot.” They sounded bored with their own message. So, how would that translate to the audience?

My method of practice is always to say the presentation out loud -- not in my head where I am eloquent. This helps me with timing, and pacing, not to mention anchoring the content in my head.

The irony is, the longer the presentation, the less time it takes to prepare.

I find short presentations – 20 minutes and under – to be the hardest.

Anyone can ramble.

To make a point hit home in a limited amount of time -- delivering it with passion and authority – that is an art.

What speaking masterpieces have you worked on lately?

For free articles, tips & techniques on presentation skills, visit the new BRODY site.