E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Improving Your Presentation Skills – Part Deux

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I am sure that you would probably still remember how a couple of weeks back I put together a blog post where I shared a good number of resources with plenty of hints and tips on helping “Improve Your Presentation Skills“. No wonder. At the time, the article made the rounds striking a chord, and probably hitting a nerve, or two!, that most of us seem to be able to relate quite close to all along: you can never learn enough about the art of delivering an engaging and thought-provoking presentation in front of an audience. Delivering captivating presentations is a gift, and a skill that needs constant fine tuning, nurturing, learning and maturing over time.

So, I am back! I am back putting together another article developing further into this very same topic, since a bunch of folks shared across a whole bunch of rather interesting resources I thought would be worth while sharing on this Part Deux entry. Are you ready for some more Presentation Zen? Read on then …


Start with this wonderful article shared by John Mancini under the heading “8 things I have learned about effective presentations“, which surely is a rather relevant piece with plenty of advice from John’s own experiences on delivering engaging presentations to large audiences by summarising them all into 8 things. I have taken the liberty of listing them all over here, as a teaser, to entice you to go over his article and read it through. It’s worth while every word!:

  1. “There is no need for a keynote to be more than 20 minutes
  2. Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Them them what you told them
  3. Get out from behind the podium
  4. Try to deliver your content as if it is a performance. It is
  5. Can the commercials
  6. No font smaller than 24 pt.
  7. No clip art and minimal canned templates
  8. Less is better than more

Once you are done reading John’s piece I can certainly recommend you also have a look into this particular article from UCBerkeleyNews for a rather interesting and refreshingly surprising read on the art of delivering a wowing presentation, featuring David Byrne. Moving on … another interesting resource, which would be worth while your time, for certain, and which one of my networks shared across on Twitter right after I published the first part of this blog entry, would be the evocative post shared by Dan Pallotta over at Harvard Business Review under the suggestive title “Delivering the Speech of Your Life“, where he, too, dives into sharing across his basic rules gathered from all of his years of public speaking; once again, allow me to take the opportunity to share the headers, as a teaser, to share with you what you will be finding over there when you start reading it:

  1. “Know your goal
  2. Memorise your speech
  3. If you don’t want to knock it out of the park, don’t follow rule #2
  4. Practice the transitions
  5. Don’t fear silence
  6. Never, ever, use PowerPoint as your speech notes
  7. Give something of yourself
  8. Be yourself
  9. Don’t speak in abstractions
  10. Feel what’s happening in the room
  11. Make eye contact until it scares you
  12. Don’t miss your own talk
  13. Come for a place of love for your audience

Very interesting set of tips, don’t you think so? I am sure you would agree with that sentiment, so go on and finish off reading Dan’s article and then come back for some more interesting readings on this topic of improving your presentations skills and how to get better at it by the day. Starting with this wonderful blog post that my fellow IBM colleague, Wes Morgan put, together just recently and which came out as a result of him sharing a bunch of tips on Twitter around the topic of public speaking. Lots of great insights in there, too! Worth while a read!

Now moving into the provocative side of things, here are a couple of mind-blowing links I am sure you would enjoy reading as well, still on this very same topic, but with a slight twist. The first one is a reflection by Steve Denning under the heading “Death by PowerPoint? Is PowerPoint the Villain?” and which ties in, quite nicely, with the main themes covered over at his book “The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management“, which (The book) I will talk about separately in an upcoming blog post. Another worth while read!

From there onwards jump into this Slideshare presentation (Ohhh, the irony, eh? 😉 hehe) under the provocative title “Stop breaking the basic rules of presenting” and go flip through the charts of what I think is just the right combination of plenty of great fun mixed rather nicely with a whole bunch of tips and tricks on what to do, and what not!, when speaking in public delivering your presentation. And since we are talking about relevant presentations in Slideshare to this particular topic, here is another one of my favourites, titled “Don’t Be A PowerPoint Felon” which pretty much covers, and very effectively!, three different presentation crimes and how to avoid them. Just brilliant! I am sure you would enjoy it quite a bit, too! If not judge for yourselves:

Phew!! That’s what I call a whole bunch of resources, with plenty of hints and tips, tricks, techniques, know-how, and lots of experiences on achieving Presentation Zen. However, there is more… Plenty more! But, for now, let’s go ahead with just one more. If you haven’t gotten the time to go through all of those resources or interesting links I have shared above, not to worry, here is one final video clip that I would love to leave you with and which only lasts three minutes, but which, I am sure, after you watch it, will change your perception of putting together a presentation, and delivering it effectively, for good! And for the better! Starting today.

Have a look into this entry on “Create an Effective Presentation” by Nick Morgan, CEO of Public Words, who, coincidentally, just recently, put together this article under the heading “If You Must Use Power Point, Here’s How To Do It – 5 Tips From Hans Rosling“, which is also a must-read, packed with plenty of fantastic advice (By the way, one of my favourite TED Talk videos, as of late, from Hans Rosling himself is this one on “Hans Rosling and the magic washing machine“; watch it! and you will see the word engaging take a new meaning, to say the least!). Anyway, back to Nick’s 3 minute video clip, where he details “five key steps to engage any audience“, here is the embedded code, so you can play it right as we speak, if you are just too busy for all of the resources I have shared in this post so far 😉

You see? I told you this 3 minute video clip by Nick was worth the wait all the way, right? A very good use of three minutes, if you ask me… Well, I guess that’s what happens when you use your own blog to capture some excellent resources you bump into on how to improve your own presentation skills and then after it’s out there you start experiencing how plenty of folks keep sharing across their own hints and tips, additional relevant resources, etc. etc. So, to all of you who have contributed to make this blog entry on this topic a reality (Part Deux) of becoming an engaging public speaker let me share across a special thanks! for taking the time to sharing them across! Now, it’s a good time to get things started and practice! Because practice makes perfection, or so they say …

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1 comment

  1. I typically do 2 different types of speaking. I do the recorded screencasts for notesin9.com and I’ll speak live at usergroups and Lotusphere and such.

    What I’ve found to be helpful in preparing for the Live presentations is to “screencast” it ahead of time. That helps me with 2 things. I can zero in on the time a little better, and while I hate the sound of my voice, watching/listening to it afterwards is almost as good as practicing live. And with the recording I can watch it on the plane or treadmil… when I wouldn’t have a chance to really practice otherwise.

    I’m sure I’m not a great speaker and I’ll have to review these posts and tweets. I do try and have different styles for the 2 mediums. But the recordings have helped me so I wanted to share that idea.

    Of course that’s not an option for the “pull it together at the last minute” situations. You do need to plan ahead.


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