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So today I fly off to South Korea to be a judge and speaker at Adstars.
Yes … another conference, another speech, another “holiday” and another week where you don’t have to put up with my inane ramblings on this blog.
That’s a win:win in my book.
Except for the people going to the conference.
Anyway, this leads me to something that I think not enough planners pay attention to and that’s the art of the presentation.
We touched on this subject ages ago with an A[P]SOTW assignment, but I really cannot stress how important it is to be able to present well.
That doesn’t mean just having a clear, consise, informative and inspiring powerpoint/keynote deck, it means being able to present it in a way that conveys energy, enthusiasm, understanding, confidence and credibility.
Yes, I appreciate those are words you wouldn’t normally associate with me, but that aside, HOW you present is easily as important as WHAT you present.
Should that be the case?
No, it would be much better if people judged purely on the quality of work than the quality of the razzmatazz … but the fact is, we’re human beings and we like being entertained, especially when we’re being sold to.
That doesn’t mean we should all joke around and act like fools … nor does it mean tap-dancing is an excuse for a badly thought out presentation … it just means appreciating that people buy people and so if your approach is to basically read whatever is on the presentation screen verbatum, you’d better hope you’re explaining the secret to life or you might be beaten by someone who has a better ability to connect to an audience.
So how do you do it?
Well that’s the million dollar question.
One thing I am quite vehemently opposed to is standardised presentation training.
Sure, it can help with some of the basics [Don’t “ummm” and “ahhhh” when you talk. Don’t walk backwards and forwards while you’re presenting] but basically they try and homogenize the presenting style which undermines the importance of letting your personality shine through.
For me there’s a couple of ‘tricks’.
1. Self Review.
Get someone to watch how you present and preferably video it.
I know … I know … it’s horrible and hard, but it’s the first step to improvement.
2. Watch Others.
It doesn’t matter who they are or even what industry they work in … go and see as many presenters as possible.
Look how they present, write down things that make a big impact on you/the audience – good or bad.
It might the look of their presentation … the way they articulate their points … the tone they use while they talk … doesn’t matter, write them all down and then start grouping them into ‘good point/bad points’.
If possible, try and see people from a variety of industries present – you’d be amazed how different their approaches can be.
I can honestly say that I got more value watching how barristers and architects structure their arguments than pretty much any planner.
That doesn’t mean planners can’t present, but they all tend to have ‘a particular style’ and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the only way to convey your point of view, far from it.
3. Objective Review
So now you’ve seen a bunch of other people present and marked down their good/bad points – it’s time to give yourself some ‘tough love’.
Compare all your notes with the video/comments of your own presentation.
Where are the problems? What can you change? What are you doing well that you can build on?
In a perfect World, you’d of taken someone to all the presentations with you so that you can be sure the things you think are good/bad are genuinely good/bad … but even if you can’t, just comparing yourself to others will help you lift your game – and given so few people do this – it automatically puts you in a better position than most.
4. Go To Improv Class.
Yes, I appreciate this sounds utter wank … but in my mind, the power of presenting lies in your ability to read and react to an audience, rather than blindly going about your business as if they weren’t there.
Improv class is not about changing who you are, it’s about helping you be the best you can be.
It’s about understanding how to use your voice … how to use your body language … how to draw on your personal stories and anecdotes.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve fallen back on a personal experience to convey a particular point.
Doing this makes people feel more at ease … have a connection with you … feel what you’re saying, not just hear it … understand you are giving more than just ‘a presentation’, but talking about something that has a personal resonance – or relevance – with you.
Of course, having a well thought out, well articulated point of view is vital, but if you think that – or just a bunch of pretty slides – is all you need to make a positive and pitch-winning impression, then you’re either kidding yourself or simply presenting to audiences that don’t really matter.
See you next week.
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