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