This past weekend I took a trip out to beautiful San Diego to see one of my favorite clients – the boys at StayClassy.org. They’re an amazing group of guys who founded a non-profit organization that gets the twenty-something population of San Diego involved in philanthropic endeavors. They have unheralded passion for their work, many of them leaving lucrative jobs to pursue this cause. Passion is crucial when you’re trying to get others to believe in you and your story/cause/business. Check them out.
The Exceptional Presenter
Prior to the trip I picked up “The Exceptional Presenter” by Timothy Koegel, a presentation consultant based out of D.C. The tagline was “A Proven Formula to OPEN UP and Own the Room.” I figured it was right up my alley.
In short, I really liked the book. It was an easy read (nearly finished it on the flight from NYC to SD). Timothy does a great job understanding that his audience is mostly made up of people who feel they aren’t skilled presenters, thus it takes a simple approach at improving presentation skills. He mixes the recipe well, adding in case studies, exercises, performance tracking, and note pages. He has certainly crafted a book that isn’t read just once – the reader will continually reference it again and again for quick tips and to track their own progression as a presenter.
The book, as it states, focuses mostly on how you can become not just a good presenter, but an exceptional presenter. He does mention the use of visuals to compliment your presentation instead of being the presentation. This is one of my commandments in presentation design and I was happy to see him mention it.
I definitely recommend you read this book, and you can buy it from Amazon by clicking on the picture of it on the right side of this blog.
The entire book contained important points to takeaway, but I wanted to share some I found extremely pertinent to presentation design.
- Perfection is Impossible – Tim immediately sets the tone of the book by explaining that nobody is a perfect presenter. Exceptional and Perfect are not synonymous. Also, presenters like Steve Jobs who are arguably the best presenters out there seem to speak so naturally in a conversational tone, thus, they must be natural presenters. On the contrary, becoming as “near perfect” as these presenters takes a commitment to preparation and practice. It’s difficult, but not unattainable. You simply have to commit to become better. Becoming an exceptional presenter is a journey, not a task.
- OPEN UP and Own the Room
- Organized – Be organized and you’ll appear organized. Show up at least 60 minutes early (60/20 rule). Spend 40 minutes organizing and getting ready; spend 20 minutes mingling, introducing yourself, maybe even find some allies in the audience
- Passionate – Tim says, “Exceptional presenters radiate passion, conviction, and enthusiasm.” If you don’t care about your story, why should anyone else?
- Engaging – You must engage and connect with the audience. Build rapport by involving them in the presentation. Remember, you’re talking with them, not at them.
- Natural – A conversational tone will put the audience at ease and make everything seem more familiar. Attaining this conversational tone is very difficult and takes a great deal of practice.
- Don’t try to tell them everything you know. Trust me, they don’t want to know everything you know. “No one will complain if you finish two minutes early” Tim says.
- Finally, my favorite quote, “Present to win, or prepare to lose.” Presenting takes a lot of practice, and nobody was born a great presenter. If you take the time to practice and prepare, then your presentation skills will help you win in many different facets of life.
I know I’ve told you a lot, but there’s a lot I didn’t tell you. It read more like a textbook, where I felt like I learned something on every page. I highly recommend.