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Presentation tips from the pros: Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee on storytelling

What I’m going to invite you to do here requires a bit of time.

Maybe more time than the average blog post.

Bear with me because there might also be a great advantage in it for you. A lot of presentations tips along the way and a special bonus at the end.

What I want to do is analyze a great talk with you. I want to study it with you and understand what we can learn from it.

How much time should you set aside? Well you will need to watch the talk first and then read the post. The talk is 16 minutes long and this blog post takes 7 minutes to read.

It’s a lot to ask in this fast paced world. But, actually, the talk is just about this topic: how do you get your message across, when everybody has no time? How fitting.

This is a first, and to debut this new format I’ve chosen to analyze a talk by Gary Vaynerchuk – Gary Vee for his friends. He’s a best-selling book author, entrepreneur and energetic public speaker.

Let’s start with title of the talk: How to storytell in a Fast Paced Word. Quite fitting for anyone interested in becoming a Presentation Hero, isn’t it?

Included in this post there is an extra bonus: a presentation storytelling toolbox that will teach you how to be exactly like Gary Vee. Click to get it now!

Here’s the video of the talk from YouTube. Watch it now!

The talk is quite compact. Gary Vee chose to use the whole time to make one major point: context should drive our content. Our understanding of the different ways we interact online on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest should drive the way we produce content for these platforms.

This point, the core takeaway, arrives 8 minutes into the presentation.

Gary uses a well proven device: he underlines that he is about to deliver his main takeaway, that this is the highest point of his presentation and then drops the core message in an articulate yet simple way.

“Quality storytelling always wins” he starts. After a bit he goes on: “all we need to do is one thing” and then he adds “this is the smartest thing I am going to say, so just listen to this one statement”.

Only then he drops the core message: “99% of the people are looking at social networks as distribution” instead “we have to start to respect the context and the nuances of [each social network]“ because they are not just distribution platforms.

To arrive to this point he has gone through many moments. He opened with his thesis by braking it down in simple points.

First of all he clears the context: we need to stop storytelling like it’s 2007, it’s now 2014. The speed of innovation is ever-increasing and we need to step up our game.

Before going on explaining his world view he tells something about himself. He doesn’t need to brag or recite his bio: he gives us a few pointers to the elements of his career and his personality that are most related to the topic of attention and storytelling.

We are at the second minute and he has already delivered us a map of the way (we are going to talk about attention) and his perspective on it (he is obsessed with the problem). That’s were he shows us that he is a total storytelling pro. At minute number two we are already hooked. How does he go on?

He goes on with his thesis.

“Quality storytelling always wins”: you can always count on how we respond to story, because relating to stories is a human quality. This was true in the past, but will also be true in the future.

A great, reassuring, calming statement. But Gary is not calm at all. He knows that there is no story without a bad guy, no hero without an enemy, no talk without a problem to solve.

Here’s the problem:

Speed of consumption is accelerating and attention is diminishing. Gary is very physical on stage and simulates the gesture of flicking really fast on a vertical timeline on an imaginary phone. He also paces back and forth. This can be disturbing, but you can tell that it’s in his nature. He’s driven, spontaneous in this gesture, so you are more keen to accept it from him than from other speakers.

It’s not that long form, slower, movie-like storytelling is at an end. But the speed of social media requires also new ways of thinking. Gary is spot on: not only he believes that slower storytelling is not dead, he is using it in an excellent way. He eases the audience into following through his 16 minutes long presentation.

He’s involving the audience from time to time by asking them questions. He asks for a show of hands a few times. In these occasions he gets to know the room a bit better. But in one particular occasion he is able to make his point more personal for the audience. He asks: “who of you nowadays is actually annoyed when someone calls them on the phone”. He goes on to define our current obsession for control of our time.

He’s getting close to delivering is high point when he frames his talk with a great quotable phrase: “Marketers ruin everything”, they over-analyze and overuse any media until it does not provide any benefit. Marketers have ruined banner ads and email marketing in the past and they are currently ruining social media.

All this build up brings him to minute 8 where he drops the core message. He then elaborates on it, explaining how each of our social platforms require a different mindset.

That you should use them to start conversations that have the sole purpose of being conversations on that media, that the idea of posting the same thing everywhere is wrong, because social media is not a distribution channel.

Enough with the problem. The solution is provided straight away: bring value in the context. Analyze the context and bring value to your audience, engage what Gary calls the “emotional attention”. Give your audience what they expect.

This is just one part of the solution: you are providing your audience with what they want. But how about what you – the marketer or the brand – want?

At minute number 13 Gary talks for the first time of “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”, his book. The pitch comes in quite naturally. His book contains the second part of the solution.

The “jab” is the native content that drives the emotional attention, the “right hook” is the content we want to provide our audience. If you want to make your pitch, first provide a ton of value. For every “pitch”, provide at least three times the value. You get it? Three jabs to every hook.

Now we are the apex of the energy. But how does Gary continue?

He provides us with something very practical that we can apply. We are now convinced that “the context of the room changes the way you story tell” and if we are lucky we will apply this new knowledge starting tomorrow. We might as well change our content and social media strategy based on this talk.

16 minutes, 3000 words, that is an impressive 187 words per minute, a lot of body language and not a single slide. This is how Gary Vaynerchuk drives his point across and home.

He knows that the presentation is not only for his live audience. That Behance is going to make a very good recording of this talk and that it is going to be picked up by many different outlets across many months.

The talk was posted in February. It was featured in an article posted in April. I encountered in July and now I am sharing it again in September.

It has collected around 80K views in this time. Gary even uses it on his site on the page where he advertises his availability for speaking engagements.

This is one of those talks that provide at the same time a great deal of value and are a great promotional tool.

In this case this talk serves even another purpose: it has a great storytelling structure. Through this strong structure:

  • you get to know the topic,
  • you get to know the presenter,
  • there is interaction between the audience and the presenter,
  • he drops his core idea,
  • this helps him make a point and arrive at the final problem,
  • the final problem has the solution in the book pitch,
  • but you don’t need to “buy” anything, you can just apply the takeaway and you’re good to go.

All that Gary says is also totally applicable to presentations. The social networks in this case are more like the different rooms: a meetup, a meeting room, a hall at a conference. And the emotional content and value is what we always need to provide first and foremost, because they can be the vehicle of our pitch.

One thing is to analyze somebody else’s work, another thing is to apply this knowledge to our own presentations. I’ve learned this all too well in the last years. This is why I’ve put together a very special presentation and video that will teach you how to master presentation structure in just 10 minutes.

Are you willing to invest another 10 minutes of your time? The prize is grand: you can become great storytellers just like Gary Vee.Click here if you want me to deliver the free presentation storytelling toolbox to you.

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When does your next presentation really begin?

Presentation Hero has just begun its journey.

We’ve reached 100 subscribers! (Actually it’s already over 130).  In email marketing terms this number may seem small, even irrelevant, but what I see is something different, it’s a beginning. In February this conversation did not exist. The idea of saving the world from bad presentations was still in the closed quarters of my hard drive and you, well, were undisturbed by yet another training product.

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This beginning is like the beginning of any presentation.  Let me explain: right now I am sending breadcrumbs around the internet inviting the world to discover more about Presentation Hero.

This is like inviting attendees to your next meeting or sending tickets to registrants of a conference.

Not convinced yet? Read on.

Do you think that your presentation actually begins when you pick up the microphone, display your first slide and start talking? Well, in my opinion it starts way earlier.

Your presentation can exist only in the eyes of your audience. Before that time, while it’s locked inside your hard drive, it can do do no harm and no good.

But how does “first contact” with the audience happen? The medium can be as diverse as it gets.

It may be a flyer at a community center, it may be an Outloook invite to a meeting, it may be a conference website where you are listed as a speaker, it may be a cool looking paper invitation sent out to a selected elite.

It may be a presentation so important that the invitation goes viral and is subject to speculation – this happens when Apple invites the press for a new event.

Your invitation may appear on a banner ad, inside a newsletter.

You may present yourself with just a name. That is great if you are Seth Godin or Al Gore. You may introduce the title of your talk, and it better be good. You may be part of the program of a conference with a short bio and a brief description of your talk.

These materials set the expectation for your presentation. Your audience has found and maybe even noticed those breadcrumbs that you have spread around. Or maybe not at all.

Maybe they are looking at your first slide, right before you start talking, and this is how they learn something about what is going to happen.  Maybe they have no expectations and are ready to daydream, check their cellphone, chat with their neighbor.

Your presentation may be a blast. You could captivate everyone from the way you say “hello”. But in most cases you need to build momentum in advance.You need to build interest, expectations and give to your audience bigger and better breadcrumbs – maybe even a slice of the cake.

You are always in control of the message: if you are calling the meeting you should be able to craft a good subject, an interesting agenda, clear timing and objectives.

If someone else is organizing, you can still contribute with the title and, maybe, with a description of your talk. You can communicate also with the kind of portrait you use for the conference materials.

All these assets lead to the level of expectation and attention that your audience will have when you say “hello”. They determine the level of attention and engagement of your audience in the first 60 seconds of your presentation.

After the early introduction – made of the breadcrumbs we have talked about, there is another type of introduction. 

The immediate introduction may be the organizer introducing you. And introductions don’t even end there. You could consider that the first 60 to 120 seconds of your talk as a third introduction.

Most everyone attending will listen to you at least for the first 30 seconds.Probably everyone will glance at what you are projecting on screen at least once.Make those moments count, design those first slides with craft because they are crucial to the success of your talk.

Want more presentation advice for free? Subscribe to Presentation Hero right now.

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These emails will include: presentation tips & advice, free exclusive videos, invite only webinars, bonus content, special deals & discounts on Presentation Hero training and much more!
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The 16 questions you must answer when you prepare a talk or a presentation

A guide for entrepreneurs and freelancers

In a summit with another 100 speakers it’s hard to get noticed. You need to stand out in a world where conferences are multiplying like crazy, time slots are becoming increasingly short and programs are more and more crammed with talks.

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Occasionally you see a unicorn, a great presenter, with a great story and powerful visuals. Oftentimes you linger in the gray zone of the competent, well informed, content rich, but not so good presenters.

Two approaches

In my opinion there are just two ways of approaching a presentation.

You could do your best and hope to get better with time. Your competition may be as good as you, worse than you or way better. You start from your level and by learning one small thing at each conference you may get better in time. Your competition may be on a similar journey and reach and overtake your level at any time.

Either that or you could study really hard. This is where it gets interesting for me and where I can provide you with a ton of value.

Oh, did you just disconnect when you read the words “study really hard”? Yes, you’re busy. Yes, you may even have some nice presentation books somewhere at home or at the office. You may have been reading some Godin, some Presentation Zen, you may know that Nancy Duarte exists (and kicks ass). You may even know of this or that coach, of a good webinar. But you just haven’t got the time for all that. Right: you need to focus on product, team, growth. You need to find investors. No time to improve your presentation skills.

sell courses so I will tell you that the best thing you can do is train. But I sense that maybe you would prefer to have something quick and dirty. Maybe a checklist that you can go through.

All right: just because you’re so nice, here is a list of 16 questions that you can ask yourself to make it look like you studied really hard. Yes, it’s called cheating, and I’m your partner in crime today.

That feeling

Before we go to the 16 questions, allow me to go visit your mind for a second. You and I need to look together at what happens in your brain when you get the news that you are going to be presenting.

Ready? The first thing that happens has nothing to do with business. You are a serious, talented professional, but you are still a human being. This is why at the beginning of your presentation process there is a feeling. A feeling that you know all too well. It can be summarized with the same “Oh, shit!” that you used to say to yourself when your teacher called you to speak in front of class.

Yes, even though you are a grown up now, you still feel like you have been called by the teacher. Even if a meeting with X Fund or talking a Y Conference is a great opportunity, you still fear it and – instinctively – resist it. That’s fine. Let’s embrace the fear and move on.

What to talk about

When this first sensation subsides you are tasked with resolving an initial conflict:

  • on one hand as an business person you know exactly what you want to pitch: your latest product, your offering, your strategy, the way of the future!
  • on the other hand you remember the last time that you were in the audience when someone was just pitching/pitching/pitching. You don’t want to bore the eyeballs out of the orbits of our audience.

Now you know that you need to find an angle, you need to figure out: “what am I gonna talk about?”

This usually leads to desperation and hope that – while showering the day before the talk – you will get some sort of insight about what to talk about.

It’s doesn’t need to be that way. Whenever you need to give a presentation all you need is this process made of 16 questions. Once you answer them you are all set to give your presentation.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that will show you how to best answer these 16 questions the next time you need to prepare a presentation.

1. Who is my audience?

Think long and hard about your audience. If you don’t know them well and they are a limited number spend some time researching information about them. If the audience will be comprised of many people create a “persona” of the typical audience member. Try to understand what are their stakes. Why are they invited to the meeting? What are they trying to get from the day?

Yes. I am saying that you should, first of all, think like an audience member. Think about what an audience member would want to receive from a speaker.

Chances are the outcome that they are looking for is not even remotely connected to your goals. This is why you have a lot of work to do. But at least now you know in what direction you should work.

Aligning with the goals of your audience may seem counter-intuitive. But it will help you find a way to package your pitch in such a way that it does not look like a pitch.

Your job is to repackage your content, your ideas and your presentation in order for it to meet both your goals and the goals of your audience. You will need to compromise on the amount of sales speak that you use. And – probably – you will need to find some new, different topic to talk about that will peak the interest of your audience. This new topic will allow you, at the appropriate moment, to shine a light on your product and deliver the pitch.

How do you do that? Let’s get on with the questions to figure it out.

2. What is my audience expecting from me?

Are they even expecting you? Do they even know who you are? Are you the highlight of the event and everyone knows you or are you a peripheral part of a bigger picture.

If your audience has expectations you should now define them and make sure to meet them. If your audience has no expectation then its your chance to define them: the good news is that you can surprise your audience if no expectation is set.

If your audience is expecting you to be a boring corporate drone you could surprise them (and get their benevolence and attention) by giving a short, engaging and fun talk.

If your audience is expecting a dry pitch you could tell them a transformative story rich of useful data and practical takeaways.

If your audience is expecting you to make their day, then you need to work really hard to align your presentation to their expectations.

3. What am I expecting from my audience? What are my desired outcomes?

If you’re there is not just to please an audience: you surely have an outcome in mind. Maybe you want your idea to spread or, more often, you need to sell yourself, your services or a product of yours.

If this is compatible with what the audience expects from you, go ahead and introduce those sales and self promotional elements in your presentation.

But caveat emptor, if your audience will react negatively to any pitch or sale tactic why don’t you use this occasion to establish a rapport that you will exploit at a later stage?

Sometimes the best way to sell is not to sell at all: start by earning the trust, attention and loyalty of the audience. You can end your presentation on a call to action that is only loosely releated to your desired outcome. If you want them to buy your product why don’t you offer to send them your ebook in exchange of their email address? If you already have their contacts why don’t you leave them wanting more of you: the first meeting has been about education, in the next one you will have more of your pitch.

4. What language and visual style is my audience expecting?

You know your audience better and you have established what they want from you, and you from them. Now it’s time to define what language and visual style you should use to best communicate with them.

Do you know their lingo? Can you integrate in your language some elements that are familiar to them? Do you want to – strategically – sound distant from their world by using a different vocabulary?

There are many possible strategies: it’s important that you think about your talk as a unit, made of different components. The components are: your style, your language, your slides. These shouldmeld together in a coherent way.

If you are going to be presenting with the help of slides take a moment to imagine what visual style will look best in the eyes of your audience. The presentation is about you/your product, but isfor them.

Try to look at your material with their eyes and ears. Align not only with their expectations about content, but also with their visual expectations.

5. What is my core message?

Defining the core message should be easier now that you know what your audience wants: it must include something coming from your knowledge and experience. This “something” should be useful for your audience to reach their goal and also for you to reach your desired outcome.

Try to remember some of the last talks and presentations you listened to. You probably can define them with very short sentences like: Dana presented the Q1 forecast that does not look as bad as everyone expected. Or Larry, the expert in email marketing, talked about the important of drip campaigns.

These are core message: you should be able to write yours down in a simple and short sentence.

Take your time to brainstorm possible core messages. After listening to your talk, they are the one thing that your audience will remember.

6. Why is this core message interesting for my audience?

If you brainstormed core messages, chances are you now have more than one. How do you narrow down to the one core message your are going to provide in your presentation?

Look at the core messages you have. You probably have a bunch of core messages that are perfectly aligned with your desired outcome but don’t look so appealing to your audience. And you could also have a number of core messages that are exactly what your audience expects, but that don’t allow you enough maneuvering space to include your pitch.

Your way is in the middle of those two groups. Look for the core messages that align with both your outcomes and the goals of your audience. But if you fail to find one, go for the one that better meets the expectations of your audience.

This is the safe bet when it comes to the core message of your talk.

7. What is the best medium for my core message to come through?

Does your audience really want a PowerPoint presentation  from you? Would you be better off by talking without the help of slides and, maybe, providing a short memo to the attendees?

Whenever it’s allowed by the “etiquette” of your target audience, think about talking without slides or using just 2 or 3 slides that help you make a specific point.

You could also have just a few slides with the main topics of your speech, that set the pace for the different sections of your talk.

Don’t default to making a slide show.

8. What gifts can I give?

I am not talking about materials objects or even discounts or coupons. But more important things like tips, techniques and actionable to-do’s. Stuff that remains with the audience, that your audience can repeat every day.

What I am saying is: your talk happens, and then?

Well if your core message was strong it could be remembered. But wouldn’t it be better if your audience changed their behavior integrating some of your knowledge and ideas in their daily lives?

Do you think it’s far fetched? At the end of most presentations you can provide something actionable. This works not only to fixate the presentation in the memory of your audience, but also serves as a nudge to change their everyday habits.

I am sure that we all have a book we can suggest, a useful practical shortcut, a theory that can be put into practice following steps 1 through 5.

Give gifts: you’ll be remembered.

9. How many slides?

You should not have more than 1 slide per minute of talk, unless you are a super skillful presenter and your visuals kick some serious ass. So a 15 minutes presentation should average 15 slides where you have around 60 seconds per slide.

You can occasionaly break this rule, but at the beginning of your public speaking career try to err on the safe side and go for less slides.

10. How much text?

If you are going to present a deck make sure to have the least possible amount of text. Follow these rules:

Optimize text for whoever is sitting in the last row: text size should be 30 points minimum, anything smaller will be unreadable in many settings so avoid small text. If your font looks huge on your computer, then you have achieved the right size for a projected presentation.

No lists: each concept should have its own slide. And don’t ever use a bullet point. Those are banned. Right!?

Only in case you are preparing a handout that you are not going to display on screen, go for longer text.

11. What template should I use?

My suggestion for you is to start from scratch as many times as possible. Drop the defaults. Kick the logos off the slides and focus on your message.

Would it come through better with beautiful typography or great images? Can you draw? Do you have illustrations ready? Look at your assets but don’t let you get locked in by any predefined template.

One word of advice: once you choose a template, stick to it.

12. What visuals should I use?

Only use the visuals that will have the best possible impact with your audience. Think about what they like, what they would appreciate, what they are familiar with.

Your taste should be put to use to decorate your house, not your slides. Remember: your presentation may be about you, but is for your audience.

13. Should I rehearse?

Yes! Nobody is great at a presentation that has not been rehearsed. And you will not loose your spontaneity if you spend some time acting out your presentation.

If you can, record your trials and listen to them to optimize your output.

14. Should I memorize my talk?

Not necessarily. But you should have the sequence clear in your memory.

You should always know by heart what slide comes next, how to transition to it. Memorize the key “junctions” of your discourse. This will also boost your confidence on stage and allow to present without slides in case something technical goes wrong.

15. How much time should I devote to the task overall?

You should allot time for:

  • thinking through your presentation;
  • structuring it;
  • designing it;
  • rehearsing it.

This means that you have to start way in advance, much earlier than you think. Only if you will be presenting current data that would become stale, you are allowed to put together your materials closer your deadline.

16. How should I plan for all this?

Now its time to start working. Put the conference dates on your calendar and plan the time you need to think, structure, design and rehearse your presentation. Make sure to budget the time according to your abilities. Don’t overestimate your ability to prepare everything at the last minute.

Going from fear to a successful presentation can require time, but is a wonderful journey that will have you sweating on structure and story, have you impersonate your audience and align your goals with theirs. In the process you will better understand them, and your self as well.

Let me end on a high note: the fact that you are addressing the problem of becoming a better presenter is already sign that you can become one. The fact that you are reading this article gives me great promise in your growth. You see, 99% of your peers and colleagues don’t even think that presentations can be a great way to communicate, engage, inform and move to action. You do and you have an advantage over them.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that will show you how to best answer these 16 questions the next time you need to prepare a presentation.

If you like what you read you’re in a for a treat. I write about presentations every week to my email list. Join fellow presenters that are on the journey to becoming Presentation Heroes through this link.

Want more presentation advice for free? Subscribe to Presentation Hero right now.

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Every two weeks you will receive a personal, insightful email on presentations from me personally.
These emails will include: presentation tips & advice, free exclusive videos, invite only webinars, bonus content, special deals & discounts on Presentation Hero training and much more!
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Your Information will never be shared with any third party.

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Congratulations, when it comes to presentations you are already part of a 1% elite group

Congratulations! By reading this article you already demonstrate that your are part of an elite!  You belong to a lucky bunch, a restricted club. You are be the 1%. Why? Because you know that there are steps you can take to become a better presenter. Because you feel for your fellow audience members: you would hate to bore them.

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But the idea of growing, of developing your skills is equally important to you. You want to become better at something and you want to do it for the long term.

Do you know why you are even luckier? Because 99% of the people are not working on their presenting skills and so they are losing ground to you, at great speed.

Their inability to acknowledge that we are all in a constant learning process puts them behind, far behind.

When you acknowledged that there was a problem, you already won.
So, here is the opportunity to grow your communication, your thinking, storytelling, design, and delivery skills.

I talk about the thinking skills here for the first time. But as the lessons of my course start rolling from production, I realize that this is an important component of Presentation Hero.

The beauty is that after you use a strong structure to grow your thoughts and your ideas, this very structure can disappear under your valuable content. And this is great: nobody needs to see the infrastructure that you use to deliver your thoughts. All they need to see is your great content!

Want more presentation advice for free? Subscribe to Presentation Hero right now.

Want more presentation tips and techniques?
Sign up to Presentation Hero right now!
Every two weeks you will receive a personal, insightful email on presentations from me personally.
These emails will include: presentation tips & advice, free exclusive videos, invite only webinars, bonus content, special deals & discounts on Presentation Hero training and much more!
Did I mention it's completely free?
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.

Not so sure yet?

Click below and you’ll know exactly why I am asking for your email address.

How to handle minor presentation glitches like a pro

“Beauty” is said to be “in the eye of the beholder”. This also applies the other way around. When we make mistakes, we can clearly see the “ugly” things we do or say even when nobody else noticed them.

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I am not a very confident public speaker. Not originally, at least. I’m an introvert and I had to coach myself into gaining confidence. And I am still struggling with  common issues like speaking too quickly or draaaaagggiiiiiinnnnggg the vowels when I feel insecure.

During presentations everybody makes mistakes. My internal judge is quick to point them out and I get a an uncomfortable feeling, like a rush of embarrassment. That’s because I know that I am better than my mistake.

Fortunately I often have a recording of my talks and when I watch them I go straight to those points where I made those mistakes. What you can see from the outside is usually a small, minor glitch: the huge mistake as seen from the inside, when seen from the outside is really no mistake at all.

I optimize all of my presentations. Well, those moments are simply less polished, less fluid that the rest of my presentation.

Guess what: your audience will not notice these glitches if you are providing good value throughout your presentation. Actually your audience is with you: they don’t want you to fail. To the contrary: if you have established a positive relationship with them, they will want you to ace your presentation.

So next time you internally notice that something is not perfectly right during a presentation, don’t worry about it. Keep going on strong, don’t pause, don’t underline what happened. Chances are, you are the only one that noticed.

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The one secret to successful presentations that everybody knows and… forgets

Every time I am walking or cycling I think that cars go too fast and are terribly dangerous.

Every time I am driving a car I think that pedestrians and bicycles are too slow and get in my way.

Same person: two conflicting world views that are simply based on context. If I walk I see the cars in a certain way, and from the vantage point of the steering wheel I stop identifying as a pedestrian and see the world in a completely different manner.

the-one-secret

This role reversal happens all the time in presentations. When we are in the audience we are fully capable of seeing the flaws in the presentation that we are following. As presenters instead it’s hard for us to identify the same flaws in our own presentation.

When you are presenting there is one simple question that can help you figure out exactly what your audience wants. Your audience is asking this question over and over again, without rest.

Unfortunately when you are tasked with creating a presentation you forget about this question, like I forget that I once was a pedestrian every time I get behind the wheel.

Other priorities kick in:
– you have to please your boss;
– you need to refine your storytelling;
– you need to adhere to the corporate template;
– you need to pitch your business or yourself.

You know all about this question, because you have asked the same question every time you have been an audience member.

What’s in it for me?

KEEP CALM AND WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME_ - KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON Image Generator - brought to you by the Ministry of Information

We all know it: but what does it really mean.

This question, first of all, is asked by every single member of your audience, not by the audience as a group. So everyone will have an individual answer to the question, everyone will look for their own “what’s in it for me” inside your presentation.

“What’s in it for me” means: why should I pay attention? Why should I change my focus from the comfort of my own internal thoughts and worries to follow you? Why should I drop my smartphone, close my laptop and stow my tablet and start listening?

It also means: what part of this presentation speaks directly to me? What do I identify with? Am I the protagonist of any of the situations highlighted in this presentation? Am I involved, impacted or at least influenced by what is being presented?
Or it this presentation about other – different – people?

It means: how do I benefit? Do I get money, fame, beauty, happiness from this presentation? Where is my personal advantage? At what point of this presentation do I advance my career, increase my brain power and become more likable?

Fact is, the answer to all those questions is different person by person and – I’m so sorry – you will not be able to please everyone with your presentation.

To maximize your chances of providing meaningful content to the largest part of your audience you can apply those strategies:

Help your audience identify early why they should pay attention: who are you? Why are you speaking? How long are you going to speak? How is your talk structured?

Engage them with a good story arc: structure your presentation by easing your audience into a topic and providing a clear high point towards the end.

- Fill your presentation of actionable “benefits” for your audience: give away the most valuable information you have to them.

Correctly answering “What’s in it for me” drives most of the marketing, advertising and sales that happen on the planet.

Marketers spend millions to put “you” inside all sort of stories in their advertising.

Often advertisers preach to the wrong choir: they show a toy advert to singles with no kids or a male hygiene product to females. It has happened to you in the past. Do you remember what happened? There was no “you” in the message, it wasn’t “for you” and you disconnected. This happens to your audience members when you don’t address “What’s in it for me” correctly.

Advertisers have a way to compensate for that disconnect: they spend, spend and spend to get more exposure and finally reach their target.

Have you got the same budget they have? Probably not: this is why you need to make sure that each presentation is as effective as possible and always addresses this hugely important question.

There is so much going on with Presentation Hero that my head spins. Have you seen the cards? They are becoming short shareable presentations on Slideshare and also fun 1 minute videos on YouTube.

This is my favorite one so far:
Presentation Hero 1 minute video tips – USE BIG FONTS!!!

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6 unexpected presentation tips you can learn from the 2014 Fifa World Cup

We have had our eyes collectively glued to screens large and small following the World Cup this summer.

I was watching too, but since I really don’t enjoy soccer, I was seeing something else. Now that the the dust has settled and the winner are home with their prize, I can reveal to you what the World Cup can teach us about… making better presentations.

Let’s start from how the victory was recorded by the press, TV and websites for history to come.

Unfortunately this is all a lie. I saw another World Cup, and so did you.

Let’s analyse these pictures: in those images you can see human beings, single them out, distinguish between them. You can see how much effort they are putting in their action. You often see their faces and through those faces peek into their deep emotions.

These images are powerful in the sense that – even if you don’t care about Germany or about soccer – you can see and feel either the athletic prowess or even just the human emotion. These images are universally relatable.

Unfortunately for most of the time our TV screens have been filled with a different picture. Let’s analyse it for a second.

7OUEo6I

It’s a wide shot of the field taken from a high vantage point divided into three sections.

The lower half is the playing field, the middle is the strip of displays where the sponsor messages rotate. The upper part of the image is usually composed of stadium seating or facilities.

The ball moves and the shot tracks it, but the image is wide enough for us to see the strategy behind the game: who is where, who can pass to whom, is it offside, etc.

On top of this layer we see a TV channel logo (an ident in TV lingo) somewhere on a corner, on the top left a second identifier telling us the teams, the score and the time. The lower third of the screen is occasionally used to display longer text information and match stats.

I have been staring at this screen for many matches without seeing human beings, rather match stick men, looking at horrible 3d graphics on top of the screen, seeing no emotion, no sense of athletic performance and boring my eyes out of their orbits.

Why does the live edition of the world cup suck so much when it’s compared with the memorialised version we have just seen above?

One might think that the problem lies with the fact that it’s actually happening live. That could be the issue: it’s hard to predict where the ball will go, so better keep a wide emotionless, athletically neutral shot.

But wait, we haven’t asked an important questions: who is the live production done for? Whose orders are they following? The answer in both cases is: FIFA.

FIFA is sponsored by brands so the broadcast is geared towards giving these sponsors as much screen time as possible. This is – quite simply – the reason why during the live broadcast you will rarely see an image like the ones we see in the media the day after the event is over.

Not because it’s unfeasible during the live match. But because it does not provide enough screen time to the sponsors.

As usual we, the public, are not the customers: we are being sold something. And in the process of selling to us, the sponsors make our experience worse than it could be.

But wait, this is starting to sound like a pointless rant against the World Cup.

Instead the interesting part is what we can learn from all these errors and apply to our next presentation!

1. Dump your company logo!

The identification of the channel that sits on top of the image on the TV screens has a history. And probably it’s still justified by a simple fact: our remote controls have horrible interfaces.

But you are using a state of the art presentation medium so you don’t need to have any identifier constantly on screen.

I am talking about your company logo. Drop it from the template, delete it from your slides.

You can feature it only when it has a specific meaning.

If you display it in the first/last slide of your presentation then it stands for “I belong to ACME CORP” or “The following message is brought to you by ACME CORP”.

Otherwise you could let your audience find your company logo in the middle of your presentation. In this other case it says “This happened at ACME CORP”.

Just don’t display it on all the slides.

2. Don’t focus on your pitch, focus on your content!

Your audience doesn’t want to hear your pitch, as much as I don’t care about seeing the logos of VISA, McDonalds and Yingli Solar (WTF) on the side of the pitch.

Your audience feels the same way about your pitch, so make sure that the content is front and center at all times. Once you have shown enough content and enough emotion – as exemplified during the World Cup by the crazy faces of Thomas Müller – then you can let a bit of your sales content seep through, but just a trickle.

3. USE BIG FONTS!

USE BIG FONTS

I have always seen the Word Cup on the biggest screens and it has always been impossible to read the little timing clock or read the match stats.

Don’t make the same mistake: always use big fonts and optimise for who is sitting in the back row.

More info in this super short video.

4. Plan your layout wisely

BsEBVyPIYAEiFaQphoto credit: Bill Robbins https://twitter.com/billrobbins

Germany’s content (the 7 goal scorers) simply exceeded the tiny space devoted to this kind of content by the standard layout. In the middle of the tv screen this tiny scroll bar appeared next to the scorers names creating an unwanted comedy effect. Design your layout for your content, but don’t forget the edge cases.

5. Choose the content that you show at the end wisely because it will shape the memory of your presentation

Even if on television we mostly spent time watching at the whole field, we will remember the image of the team holding the cup.
This is how memories are formed: our brain takes what we see, know and feel at the end of an experience and uses that to fix the memory.

This is why you should keep your best content for the end of your talk.

For the same reason you should help your audience connect the dots by summarising your presentation.

6. Deliver it live!

Don’t be like the FIFA production that keeps the best images for the day after. Don’t hold back. Deliver all your best content (complete with emotions) directly to your audience.

Give your best in the moment. If it’s being captured on video this will show. But don’t perform for the replay, perform for the live audience.

I’m glad that Germany won the world cup and I’m also happy that, at least before the next Euro Cup begins, I will not have to sit through another soccer match. I admire the athletic abilities, the strategy and the hard work that goes into the game on the field. These matches are – in my opinion – made of great content really badly presented.

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3 presentation tips you can learn from rude taxi drivers

Rome. Love it or leave it. I left it a few years ago, but I still love it deeply. Even with all its contradictions it can be a great place to be. As long as you don’t need to move around too much.

You see: walking, strolling with a gelato is the perfect thing to do in Rome. But recently I was there on business. And this means I was zipping back and forth on a taxi to various appointments.

cover-taxi-driver

If you had a first hand experience of Rome’s taxis you already know that the drivers here are far from polite. Here’s three tales from the eternal city that tell us that powerful principles can be learned also from rude taxi drivers.

1. Don’t provide metadata: first of all, in case you don’t know it, metadata is a set of data that describes other data, in other words, a description or extra information. During the trip, he underlined the driving style of every single other car driver of Rome. According to him, everyone misbehaved on the road, apart from him naturally, and you know who are the real a-holes? Everyone with a German car… Enough with this!

My goal was: getting from a to b. Did the metadata help reach the goal? Not a bit!

This happens a lot in presentations. Some people come on stage and start complaining about various things.  About a fault in their computer, a projector that doesn’t work quite right, a microphone that they don’t know how to use.

When a presenter behaves this way, they are no different from the bad mannered taxi driver. It’s plain unprofessional, so don’t do it!

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Photo by: Robert Lowe (some rights reserved)

2. Adapt the environment to your audience: taxi drivers have their own multimedia environment. Namely their car stereo. If you are in Rome that is set to some trashy talk radio that discusses soccer. There are two main teams, and – as you can imagine – two opposing radios.

This sound scape is imposing and – if anything – should be negotiated with the customer beforehand.

You can do the same with the language that you use and with your slides.  You could choose the wrong imagery, the wrong colors, set the wrong tone and communicate in the wrong way with your audience. Try to see your slides with their eyes to avoid this pitfall.

3. Don’t take anything for granted: at the end of the ride the driver decided to give himself a tip. Let me explain. I asked for a receipt and the driver thought: “this person here is on expenses, this is not out of his pocket, let’s charge him some more.” So he proposes the new price. I push back. He goes: “Hey man, what price should I put?” I have to reply: “The price that says on the meter. Duh!”

You can do the same mistake during your presentation. Don’t make assumptions on behalf of others, don’t give your own response to all the questions. Don’t assume you have the insight or information: ask and then listen.

Remember the behavior of the roman taxi driver when you need to give the next presentation:

 

  • Don’t provide metadata,
  • Sync the environment/mood with your audience,
  • And don’t take stuff for granted.

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6 must know technical tricks that will make you look like a presentation pro

Do you feel confident when you are close to a computer?

I ask you this because I see that there is often a disconnect between the presenter and his tools. What do I mean? I often see presenters struggling to put their slides on screen, saying – as a disclaimer – that they are no “Powerpoint experts” and appearing clueless in front of their own slideshow.

6 must know TECHNICAL TRICKS that will make you look like a PRESENTATION PRO

If you are not confident with your computer or slideshow software you may think that it’s a good idea to separate yourself from it. In other words you may try to excuse or explain your lack of knowledge by distancing yourself from the technology.

I am sorry but that makes you look like a fool. Most of the knowledge you need to display a Powerpoint presentation can be easily memorised the first time you do a presentation. Learn these keyboard shortcuts and you will look like an advanced presenter.

Let’s begin with the first and most important keyboard shortcut: assuming you are on Windows pressing the F5 key while your document is open in Microsoft Powerpoint puts your slides fullscreen. Simple, fast and easy!

Alt+Cmd+P will do the same in Apple Keynote on a Mac.

Shift+Cmd+Enter will do the trick on Microsoft PowerPoint on Mac (but if you are on a Mac you should just not use Office and stick with iWork).

In all these programs there are some common keyboard tricks: either hitting the space bar or the right arrow will let you go to the next slide.

You just need to know another little shortcut: if you hit the B key your screen will go black. B is for black and W, you just guessed it, makes your screen go white. This is very useful if you want your audience to momentarily concentrate on you, an not on your presentation.

If you do more than one presentation every couple of months invest 50 bucks on a remote. I just got a new one from Logitech that also has a timer on it to keep track of the time discreetly: it just buzzes in your hand every five minutes to let you know that time is passing. Here’s the model I got.

This minimal technical knowledge and a simple technological wonder like a remote can easily increase your technological confidence and make you look like a real presentation pro.

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Avoid this awful presentation mistake and start saving the world from death by Powerpoint

I feel uncomfortable when I need to sit through a bad presentations. But there is one things that makes me really mad: hearing people complimenting a bad presenter after a presentation that sucks.

Did you ever have the same experience? It happens to me all the time. I see a really bad presentation and during the Q&A someone starts the interaction with the presenter by saying “Thanks for the great presentation”. This should be a criminal offense!

Avoid this awful presentation mistake and start saving the world from death by Powerpoint

I want to talk about two things. The danger of positive feedback and the difficulty of saying bad things.

Whenever you compliment a bad presentation you are making the world a more miserable place: because you are simply reinforcing bad habits, lack of skills and – more importantly – you are not stimulating the presenters to learn from their errors and do their homework next time.

Is refraining from complimenting enough to start saving the world from bad presentations?

Well – not thanking and complimenting bad presenters is a start. But probably you should do more than that.

I must confess that I feel really uncomfortable if I have to tell someone that their presentation would need a bit of a makeover.

One strategy that I sometimes adopt is to focus on a single suggestion. Sometime it can be enough just to say that there was one concept missing, one explanation that was needed, an idea that required more time and attention.

But usually when I have just witnessed a bad presentation I don’t always feel like giving free advice to a bad presenter. I don’t feel like empathizing with the speaker, rather I would like to get my time reimbursed.

In those cases I feel we need a polite, human and nice way of publicly saying: your presentation sucks.

This is one of the many ideas that are running through my mind while developing Presentation Hero.

What’s our status by the way? You can find the latest and greatest video below.

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