How to be a presentation god

Jerry Seinfeld once pointed out in a skit that studies show public speaking is a bigger fear than death. If you are one of those millions of people who have been plagued by the fear of public speaking, this link includes an inspiring presentation by one of the world’s best business communicators:  Steve Jobs. Check it out when you have 5 minutes.  In addition, here are a few lessons learned from this example that might help you sharpen your presentation skills.  Presentation gods: Maria Loscerbo

1.   Understand their audience.  The next time you’re preparing a presentation, ask yourself: Who are they? What do they want to hear? What do they expect?  What keeps then up at night?

2.  Keep it simple.  A few well-chosen key points and images can be a powerful tool.  In the Steve Jobs example I provided you above, Steve never used more than ten words per slide! Good presenters know that the more separate points they make, the less their audience will take in. They don’t inundate their audience with too many details and they don’t lecture to their audience.

3.   Don’t use lecterns or podiums.  Good public speakers today ask to have the room setup so that it has no physical barriers that create separation between them and their audience. This ‘open’ setup is more conducive to audience engagement.

4.  Surprise.  Therein lies the energy that will change a mind, convince, inspire, persuade, recruit.

5.  Are persuasive. The most persuasive presentations are built on belief.  Good presenters believe passionately about what their are talking about. If you don’t believe it, how do you expect others to?

6.  Don’t try to be someone they aren’t. They are themselves. Oscar Wilde once said:  “Know thyself” was written over the portal of the antique world.  Over the portal of the new world, “be thyself” shall be written.  Steve Jobs wore jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt and white running shoes for his presentation. Why?  Because that’s what he normally wears at Apple HQ.  It works for him.

When you’re preparing content for your next presentation, consider using these five steps, which I’ve summarized from a book called the Perfect Pitch:

a) Gather all the information you need.  At this point, more is better.  Just dump all the data you’ve collected into a file folder.

b) Look for themes or meaning in the content you have collected. Group common themes and complementary ideas together.

c) Drop it.  Literally.  Walk away from your draft material and forget about it for a day or two.  Doing so will give you more perspective and you can approach your draft content with fresh eyes tomorrow.

d) Keep on working on your main idea(s) until it’s the right-main theme, narrative or general outline of presentation.

e) Throw away the irrelevant content.

Now, the litmus test. When you show your idea to people that have never heard it before, does it makes sense?  Remember: it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what other people hear. If you had two minutes only, what would you say? What is the soul of your idea? After you’ve practiced your presentation with a friend or colleague, how do they react? Are they inspired? Confused? Did they love it, hate it?

Good luck on your next presentation and don’t forget to check out the Steven Jobs presentation link I provided at the beginning of this post. He’s truly an inspiration.

– Maria Loscerbo

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10 Comments

Filed under Marketing Communications, Public Relations General

10 responses to “How to be a presentation god

  1. Great blog post Maria! Excellent refresher on how to prepare for a presentation, keep it simple and engage your audience. Loved the Steve Jobs video too, he’s a great role model in this area.

  2. Congrats on the gvmt presentation you gave this week! Yes Steve Jobs is the ultimate presentation god but let’s be honest, he has some cool props to talk about. 😉

  3. This is excellent advice for presenters of all kinds. I love public speaking, and I enjoy a good reminder of the basics. I find it is easy to lose focus of these, and your post is refreshing. I particularly like your reminder to be passionately engaged in the beliefs of your presentation. This is so important because there is no logical reason to conclude that an audience will be passionate about your subject if the presenter isn’t. Thanks again for this wonderful post!

    Kate

  4. Pingback: Blog Comments- Professional | Simply PR.

  5. I agree with you that the most important tip is to know who your audience is. You cannot connect to them unless you understand where they are coming from.
    I think one overlooked aspect to public speaking is this: Know what it is you want to accomplish with the speech; know your goal. It is painfully obvious to the audience if you don’t have this down pat. The last question you want them asking themselves is “why am I here?”

    Great job, this was a good read.
    -Will

  6. I loved this post! I agree with you about not being behind a podium and always understanding your audience. What are your thoughts on what to do with your hands during the whole presentation?

  7. Hi Haley,
    I think that the presenter should be natural and use his or her hands when appropriate. Not too much so that s/he looks like my Italian relatives when they are excited (!), but just enough so that they are dynamic and not too stiff. If you want news anchors on the 6pm news, ALL of them keep their hands resting on the desk, with one hand overlapping the other. On TV, too much movement doesn’t look good on camera and can be distracting. I think it really depends on the situation. I’ll have to watch the video again to see what Steve did in his presentation!

  8. Thank you for some other great article. Where else may just anyone get that kind of
    information in such an ideal approach of writing? I
    have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the look for such info.

  9. magnificent submit, very informative. I ponder why the other experts of this sector do
    not understand this. You should continue your writing.
    I am sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

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