A bit of prelude . . .
I teach at a university business school in Philadelphia and have been coaching student presentations for years.
My own book The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting addresses the needs of this particular niche audience.
I own perhaps the largest vintage public speaking book collection in the United States, outside the library of congress (more than 1,000 volumes, going back to 1762). I buy presentation books even now, to see if there is, indeed, anything new under the sun.
Most often, I am disappointed.
Until now . . .
Again, I say all of this by way of prelude, because I am not given to exaggeration at all.
Presentation Skills 201
What I say next, I utter with the sincerity born of many years laboring in the vineyards of bad presentations – Mr. Steele’s Presentation Skills 201 is, page for page, the finest book on advanced presenting I have ever read.
Surely the most succinct.
It froths with superb and utterly essential advice on every . . . single . . . page.
Distilled into powerful instructional nodes, Mr. Steele’s book is spot-on again and again. I thought that I had seen and heard it all, given that I view and judge 300 individual and 75 group presentations each year – but not so.
Mr. Steele’s work is a reminder that there is always “one more thing” that each of us can learn to hone and improve our own presentation skills.
On rushing through your presentation:
One of the keys to sounding confident as a presenter is acting like you own the time. If you were told you have 15 minutes to speak, you want to act like you own those 15 minutes. Rushing makes you sound anxious to the audience. It undermines the confident image you want to project. You risk coming across like a nervous stage performer who expects the hook at any moment. Limiting your content takes the pressure off.
On making slides:
Presenters routinely assign the lowest priority to their live audience when preparing slides. They create slides to be their notes. Slides that are speaker notes can be anemic or crammed with too much content. Some presenters just need reminder notes, so they create slides with cryptic phrases that mean nothing to the audience. Others need the slide show equivalent of a script, so their bullet points are complete paragraphs in 10-point type. Either way, the slides are frustrating to an audience.
If you need a handout, realize that a good slide show is not a good handout – and a good handout is not a good slide show.
Money is Precious
I rarely recommend books in the presentation genre. This is one of those rare times. I have found wisdom on every page of Mr. Steele’s tome and it holds an honored place at my right hand. I plan to reference it often as well as consult Mr. Steele’s website.
I recommend this book to anyone who fancies himself or herself an outstanding presenter. You can do better, and Presentation Skills 201 is the perfect tonic to take anyone to a higher level of performance.