Category Archives: General

Especially Powerful Posing

Power Posing
Power Posing Yields Presentation Confidence

I don’t mean to be a pain to my long-suffering business students, but one power posing exercise that elicits more scorn than it deserves is called “Especially Powerful.”

It consists of everyone standing up and then striking a stance of confidence and power.

Feet are shoulder-width apart and arms outstretched to either side, palms turned upward.

Picture it.

This is a critical and powerful pose.

Power Posing Personified

Then visualize a slight tilt of the head up and, in unison and in the best tradition of the deep-voiced Darth Vader, everyone repeats after me . . . “I feel especially powerful today!”

Several times.

“I feel especially powerful today!”

I’m not satisfied until the room reverberates with the appropriate tone and volume, which indicate a robust embrace of the exercise and what we’re trying to accomplish.

Which is . . . what?

Why do I engage in what might appear gimmicky or cute?

First, I don’t do cute.

Second, the exercise achieves superb physiological goals that improve many characteristics associated with business presenting.

Voice . . . stance . . . posture . . . confidence . . . poise.

In short, much of what we call body language.  Power Posing.

Especially Powerful Body Language

Especially Powerful Posing
Power Posing Carries Gravitas

We hear in some circles that nonverbal communication – your body language – comprises more than 50 percent of your message.  Some studies contend that it comprises more than 70 percent.

For no other reason than this, we should be concerned with the messages we transmit with our posture, our expressions, our gestures.

Yes, body language is critical to conveying your message, and power posing is some of the most effective body language you can use.

But it’s essential for another equally important reason.

It’s a reason not generally well-known or understood.  It’s a secret that I’ve use with my presentation students for years to invest them with confidence and new-found presentation power.  Its core idea stretches back well more than a century, to one of the world’s first theories of emotion: James-Lange Theory.

William James and the Danish physiologist Carl G. Lange developed the theory independently of each other in the 1880s.

Here’s a taste of the real thing from Mr. James himself:

“My theory … is that the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion.  Common sense says, we lose our fortune, are sorry and weep; we meet a bear, are frightened and run; we are insulted by a rival, are angry and strike.  The hypothesis here to be defended says that this order of sequence is incorrect … and that the more rational statement is that we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble …

Without the bodily states following on the perception, the latter would be purely cognitive in form, pale, colorless, destitute of emotional warmth.  We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we should not actually feel afraid or angry.”

And if you aren’t satisfied with the narrative of a 19th Century social scientist you never heard of, then take the theory of Charles Darwin, who in 1872 was one of the first to speculate that your body posture can have an effect of generating emotions rather than simply reflecting them.

The free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it.  On the other hand, the repression, as far as this is possible, of all outward signs softens our emotions . . . .  Even the simulation of an emotion tends to arouse it in our minds.

So how does this relate to powerful business presenting?

Every way you can think of.

We generally believe that our emotions affect our body language.  We ourselves have experienced the effects of stage fright.  Emotions influence the way you stand, the way you appear to your audience.  They influence what you say and how you say it.

So if we feel stage fright and lack of confidence, our body language telegraphs that.

Moreover, once we become conscious of the effects of our fears, they worsen.  We get caught in a downward spiral of cause-and-effect.

But what if we could reverse that cause-and-effect?  What if we could, say, strike a confident pose and suddenly find ourselves infused with confidence?

Impossible, eh?

But James-Lange Theory suggests that very thing, that you can reverse the process.

Especially Powerful Positive Energy

You can use your gestures, movement, posture, and expression to influence your emotions.  You can affect body language associated with the emotion you want to experience – namely, confidence – and so gain confidence.

Power Posing
Power Posing is an especially powerful component of Confidence and Charisma

This means that we should lay the groundwork for our emotions to reflect our body language and our posture.

Consciously strike a pose that reflects the confident and powerful speaker you want to be.  This is power posing.

This may sound too easy and leave you asking “what’s the catch?”

No, there’s no catch.  And now that recent research has scientifically confirmed the dynamic I just described, the secret is out.

Several theories later and after many attempts to debunk James-Lange Theory, the most recent research at Harvard University and the Kellogg School of Management would seem to give Mr. James and Mr. Lange the proverbial last laugh.

A 2010 Harvard study substantiated James-Lange Theory and found that power posing substantially increases confidence in people who assume them while interacting with others.  The Kellogg study early this year yielded the same findings.

In short, the way you stand or sit either increases or decreases your confidence.  The study’s conclusion is unambiguous that power posing can actually imbue us with power.

Our results show that posing in high-power displays (as opposed to low-power displays) causes physiological, psychological, and behavioral changes consistent with the literature on the effects of power on power holders — elevation of the dominance hormone testosterone, reduction of the stress hormone cortisol, and increases in behaviorally demonstrated risk tolerance and feelings of power.

This finding holds tremendous significance for you if you want to imbue your presentations with power and yourself with professional presence.  If you want to acquire personal competitive advantage.

In our 21st Century vernacular, power posing means you should stand the way you want to feel.

Power posing – “I feel especially powerful today!” – improves your entire presentation delivery in ways you’ve likely not imagined.

Power Posing can flood your system with testosterone and can suppress stress-related cortisol, so you actually do invest yourself with confidence and relieve the acute anxiety that presentations sometimes generate.

The lesson here is to affect the posture of confidence.  Square your shoulders.  Fix a determined look on your face.

Speak loudly and distinctly.

Extend your arms to either side and take up lots of space.

Seize the emotional energy flow and make it work for you.

And remember . . .

“I feel especially powerful today!”

For more especially powerful guidance on power posing, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Pry My PowerPoint Slides from my Cold, Dead Hard-drive

Powerpoint slides
PowerPoint slides are meant for viewing, not distribution.

My PowerPoint slides are proprietary.

I spend lots of time on them.

They have a latticework of subtle animations and overtones that bulk out the size of the file, and I practice with them a great deal to make their presence an organic part of what the audience experiences.

It takes a long time to make slides unobtrusive, you know that, right?

You should.

All of which is why my own presentations may seem to carry a bit more heft than the norm.  And so should yours.

PowerPoint slides constitute my intellectual property.  Not the specific information contained on them, although some of the unorthodox ways I present it could be considered original.

No PowerPoint Slides for You!

The slides themselves are my IP, and often I must refuse well-meaning requests for a “copy of your slide deck” as if it’s just something I hand out to passersby.  Like shareware.

In fact, some folks actually expect to get a copy of my presentation’s slides, which indicates to me how far down that sorry road we have come . . . the presentation is just a formality, really just a formal group slide reading.

Why pay attention if you’ll get a copy anyway?

Uh . . . no.

I believe that this strange tradition of passing out copies of presentation slides just prior to a talk was launched because most presentations feature slides that are virtually unreadable on the screen.

They feature dense blocks of text that assault audience sensibilities.

Hence, the tail began wagging the dog, as unreadable slides required that hand-outs be supplied so that something could be intelligible.

This, of course, has led to mind-numbing presentations, where folks in the audience shuffle and rattle paper constantly as they “follow along.”

If your audience cannot “follow along” with your presentation, the solution is not slide hand-outs.  You have a big problem presenting, and the solution is presentation training.

Stop the Paper-Shuffle!

The slide presentation, ideally, should not be a review source for an audience.  Another document should be prepared for audience review and for take-home, a document that touches on the major points of the presentation and prepared in suitable format.

So when I receive requests for my slides from my shows on presentations, I point people in this direction.

This source has everything I talk about in my seminars . . . and more.  Much more.

More detail, more gravitas, more examples.

And it’s designed to be read at home to help you develop an especially powerful presentation.

No, you can’t have my PowerPoint slides . . . but you can have this.

The Presentation Paradox

Especially Powerful Presenting
Business Presentation Paradox . . . “I don’t want all those eyes on me!”

The presentation paradox afflicts many people:

“I want to give an especially powerful presentation . . . but I don’t like to be the center of attention.”

This is the presentation paradox for more people than you might imagine.

In fact, you may be one of them.

You dream of delivering a powerful business presentation.  An interesting presentation.  A presentation that sets everyone nodding.

A show that earns the accolades of the professor and your peers.

If you’re an executive delivering a report in the C-Suite, you note with satisfaction that no one surreptitiously checks email.

It’s a presentation that exhilarates you as a fist-pumping job well-done.

And yet . . .

Presentation Paradox Paralysis

And yet, you don’t want to be the center of attention.

You believe that you can get by with directing everyone’s attention to a screen behind you.  To slides filled with gibberish in tiny font.

If the room is dark enough, people may not even see you, and you think this is fine.

You see the disconnect here.

Delivering an especially powerful business presentation means changing what you do now . . . changing your behavior to achieve what you envision yourself becoming.

You actually must do something different to achieve different results.

To deliver an especially powerful business presentation means that you must become the center of attention.  In fact, you become the message itself, a sincere proponent of a position that you convey to an audience in animated and convincing style.

Presentation Paradox
Break out of the Presentation Paradox Prison

And yet this center-of-attention is the last thing that many business students want to be.

Many presenters would rather become part of the audience.

And some actually do.

They pivot to show the audience their backs.  Then they edge backward toward the audience, almost becoming part of the assembled listeners.

They assume the role of Slide-Reader-in-Chief.

Everyone reads the slides together . . . if they’re legible at all to the audience.  And this is an awful presentation, and you know it’s an awful presentation, and yet you do it anyway.

Why?  Why not change that?

Let’s break out of the presentation paradox prison today and adopt techniques that can hone our skills to a scalpel-like edge.  This won’t happen overnight, so let’s adopt one new thing each week and practice it to start building a personal competitive advantage.

You choose which technique out of many.  My recommendation?

This one . . . especially powerful self-talk.

Start now.

 

Especially Powerful Business Presentations

I hate presentations can destroy your motivation
Develop your presentation skills to achieve a personal competitive advantage . . . and learn not to hate presentations

Here is the key to delivering especially powerful business presentations.

If you already feel reasonably confident, competent, and thoroughly satisfied with your presenting skills, then excellent!

I congratulate you and suggest that you pass Business School Presenting along to a buddy who might profit from it.

But if you are like most of the 1.3 million English-speaking business school population worldwide, you have muttered I hate presentations more than once.

And you probably have issues business presentations.  Which is why you read this right now.

You don’t want to be just average.  You don’t want to be merely good.  You want to deliver especially powerful business presentations.

You’re ready.  Energized.  You’re in the right place — the center of the business presentation universe.

One in 255 Million?

According to NetCraft in its October 2014 Web Server Survey, the internet reached an estimated 1 billion websites worldwide.

Of that 1 billion, this is the only site devoted exclusively to business school presentations.  I could be wrong about that, and I hope that I am.

Even if this is a lonely outpost today, we know that as quickly as the online community responds to the needs of its users, that could change tomorrow.

I trust you’ll let me know, so that I can link to these nooks and crannies of the web that may hold secrets that we all need.  So go ahead.  Check.

But right now, this instant, I do believe that this is it.

Think of this place as your Official College Guide to Business School Presentations.

Don’t hate presentations!

I believe, and you may agree, that business school students need credible, brief, and direct resources on presenting  – solid information and best practices.  Not vague generic “presentation principles” and not “communication theory.”

Certainly not a handful of “tips.”

In short, you want to know what works and why.

You want to know right from wrong, good from bad.

You want to know what is just opinion and what, if anything, is carved in stone.

You’ll find answers here to the most basic of questions.

 2,500 Years of Presenting

Business School Presenting answers every one of these questions and many more that you haven’t even thought of yet.  You may not like the answers.

You may disagree with the answers.

Fair enough.

Let a thousand presentation flowers bloom across the land.  Listen, consider, pick and choose your pleasure.

Or not.

But you should know that I offer here the distillation of 2,500 years of public speaking and presentation secrets, developed by masters of oratory and public speaking and refined in the forge of experience.

Folks who certainly did not hate presentations . . .

Especially Powerful Business Presentation

Cicero, Quintilian, Demosthenes, John Adams, Patrick Henry, Daniel Webster, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama  — all find their places in the pantheon of the most powerful presenters of all time.

They all have drawn upon the eternal verities of presenting.

In turn, they have each contributed their own techniques to the body of wisdom.  You find those verities here.

Especially Powerful Business Presentations
The confidence and surety of President Reagan

On the other side of things, I’d like to hear your own presentation stories from your campus that illustrate challenges particular to your school and academic concentration.

The various subdisciplines in business – finance, marketing, accounting, human resources, and such like – have their special needs, even as they are all tractable to the fundamental and advanced techniques of powerful presenting.

So think deep.

Consider the personal competitive advantage that can be yours when you develop world class business presentation skills and the ability to deliver the especially powerful business presentation.

And learn not to hate presentations by consulting my book The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Especially Powerful Presentation Visuals

Microsoft’s PowerPoint software has gotten a bum rap as insufficient for your presentation visuals.Powerpoint logo

This unfair reputation springs from the thousands of ugly presentations given every day from folks who don’t know how to use it.

And yet, PowerPoint is a brilliant tool.

But any tool – say, a hammer or saw – can contribute to the construction of a masterpiece . . . or of a monstrosity.

PowerPoint either contributes to the creation of an especially powerful presentation, or it becomes the weapon of choice to inflict yet another heinous public-speaking crime on a numbed audience.

Presentation Visuals to Rivet the Audience

PowerPoint isn’t the problem.  Clueless presenters are the problem.

So just how do you use PowerPoint  as the  basis for your presentation visuals?

This short video reviews several of my own techniques that provide basic guidance on sound PowerPoint use.  It’s just a few minutes, but what might you learn to turn your presentation frown upside down!

Have a look-see . . .

 

And consult the Complete Guide to Business School Presentations for more great guidance.

Zombies of Bad Presentation Advice

Business School Presenting, the source of personal competitive advantage
Zombies of Bad Advice Never Die

Over the years, I’ve learned that the zombies of bad presentation advice never die.

We can’t eradicate bad presentation advice completely, because these zombies are impervious to every remedy known to 21st century civilization.

When Armageddon finally comes, cockroaches and bad advice zombies will be the only survivors.

But let’s give it a shot anyway.

Zombies of Bad Presentation Advice

The process of becoming a great presenter is not so much doing things the right way.  It’s getting you – yes, you – to stop doing things the wrong way.

This is much tougher than you might expect.

This is because 1) people generally dislike the idea of change, and 2) many folks tend to think that the presentation is something that exists outside of themselves . . . in a PowerPoint software package, or in notecards, or in a book.

The notion that the presenter actually has to change is not welcome news.

Not at all.

Bad Presentation Advice
Flee the Bad Presentation Advice Zombies

Accordingly, I instruct students to just stop what they do now as a result of bad habits and bad advice.  Just stop.

That’s much more difficult than it sounds.

And we don’t engage in lengthy discussions of various opinions of what constitutes good presenting or how people want leeway granted for their own tics or habits.  This is not a time for a “conversation on presenting.”

All it takes is one film session to disabuse people of the notion that a bad habit is somehow acceptable.

Once they stop engaging in bad habits and misconceptions about presenting, they become de facto reasonably competent presenters.

That’s right.

Just stop the bad habits, and what remains can be reasonably good.

But Bad Habits Die Hard

Bad habits can be perpetuated by exuberantly following bad advice.  The problem is recognizing what constitutes bad advice.

This isn’t easy, because much bad advice paradoxically masquerades as good advice, and lots of these bad advice zombies stalk the land.

Here are some of the most common examples of awful, vague, or incomplete presentation advice you invariably hear during your business school career from the most well-meaning of folks.

 ZOMBIE #1     “Don’t Put your hand in your pocket . . . it looks ‘unprofessional.’”

This is absurd and carries the stink of oral tradition about it.

From presidents to preachers, the hand in the pocket – if done properly – conveys assurance and confidence.

Presentation Advice
Powerful, Authoritative

For many speakers, it also removes one hand from the equation as an unnecessary distractor.

Put that left hand in the pocket and you keep it out of trouble.

No more strange finger-play.

No more tugging at your fingers.

No more twisting and hand-wringing.  It leaves your right hand free to gesture, and those gestures themselves appear more decisive.

ZOMBIE #2     “Make eye contact.”

This advice is insidious in that it actually carries a large kernel of truth.

It sounds reasonable.

But it doesn’t tell you how to do it.  And, yes, there is such a thing as bad eye contact.

Too long, and you come across as creepy.  Too short, and you come across as untrustworthy.

Make eye contact with people in your audience long enough to ascertain eye color, then move on.

ZOMBIE #3     “Move around when you talk”

This gem was given to me by a student, passed on from one of his other professors.

This advice suggests that you wander aimlessly about the stage in hopes that it will improve your presentation in some unspecified way.  Or it might mean to roll your shoulders as you step side-to-side.

It actually can mean most anything, and as such, it’s terrible advice.

In this case the bad advice is worse than no advice at all.  See my previous posts on movement for ideas on how to incorporate movement into your talk . . . and how to incorporate pauses for effect.

ZOMBIE #4     “Just the facts.”

Really?  Which facts are those?

What does it mean, “Just the facts?”

Folks believe that this phrase makes them appear no-nonsense and hard-core.  But a more pompous and simultaneously meaningless phrase has yet to be devised.

Again, it means nothing and is arrogance masquerading as directness.

“Facts” must be selected in some way, and context must be provided to give them meaning.  “Facts” must be analyzed to produce alternatives and to render a conclusion.

This is a euphemism for “I don’t like what you’re saying . . . tell me what I want to hear.”

ZOMBIE #5     “The numbers tell the story.”

This is a favorite of finance folks, who seem to believe that the ironclad rules of presentations do not apply to them.

“We’re special,” finance majors like to say.  “We don’t deal with all of that soft storytelling; we deal in hard numbers.”

There is so much wrong with this, it is difficult to locate a reasonable starting-point.

Not only do numbers, alone, tell no story at all . . . if the numbers were conceivably capable of telling a story, it would be a woefully incomplete story, a distortion of reality.

Numbers provide just one piece of the analytical puzzle, important to be sure, but not sufficient by themselves.

Moreover, the business presenter who elects to serve the god of numbers sacrifices the power and persuasiveness that go with a host of other presenting techniques.  Underlying this myth is the notion that you “can’t argue with numbers.”

You certainly can argue with numbers, and you can bring in a wealth of analysis that changes completely what those numbers actually mean.

ZOMBIE #6    “You have too many slides.”

How do you know I have “too many” slides?

Say what?  You counted them?

I assure you that you don’t know.  You can conclude nothing about my presentation by looking only at the number of slides in it.

You will hear this chestnut from folks who believe that the length of a presentation dictates the number of slides you use.

Bad Presentation Advice Zombies!
You can defeat the bad presentation advice zombies by incorporating especially powerful presentation techniques into your show

Absurd on its face, people who use this believe that every slide will be shown a fixed amount of time.

They likely do some sort of calculation in their heads, dividing the time available by the number of slides to yield a number they believe indicates there are “too many” slides.

This is because they usually deal with folks unschooled in Business School Presentations methods.

If you follow the presentation principles laid down here in Business School Presentations, you will learn the glorious method of crafting frugal slides that pulse with power, surge with energy . . . slides that people remember, because they are smartly crafted.  They snap and pop, and they carry your audience along for an exciting ride.

And no one can tell anything about this by the number of slides in your presentation.

Bad Advice Zombies – these are just some that will come after you.

It’s probably not a good idea to argue with folks who give this sort of presentation advice.  What’s the use?  Just ignore it and replace it in your own work with enduring and especially powerful presenting principles – especially powerful presentation advice.

You can’t eliminate the zombies, but you can outrun them and outfox them.

And continue your upward trajectory toward becoming a superior business presenter.

If you’re interested in acquiring powerful presentation skills, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Your Business Presentation Opening

The Presentation Opening
The Presentation Opening sets the tone for your Business Presentation

Of course you know how to begin a business presentation with a powerful presentation opening.

The Presentation Opening is surely easy.

Right?

But do you really know how to launch a powerful presentation?

Consider for a moment . . .

Don’t Tiptoe

Do you begin confidently and strongly?  Or do you tiptoe into your presentation opening, as do so many people in school and in the corporate world?

Do you sidle into it?  Do you edge sideways into your show with lots of metaphorical throat-clearing.

Do you back into it?

Do you actually start strong with a story, but let the story spiral out of control until it overshadows your main points?  Is your story even relevant?

Do your tone and body language and halting manner shout “apology” to the audience?

Do you shift and dance?

Are you like a turtle poking his head out of his shell, eyeing the audience, ready to dart back to safety if you catch even a single frown?

Do you crouch behind the podium like a soldier in his bunker?

Do you drone through the presentation, your voice monotone, your eyes glazed, fingers crossed, actually hoping that no one notices.

A Bad Presentation Opening

I viewed a practice presentation that purported to analyze a Walmart case.  The lead presenter was Janie.  She began speaking, and she related facts about the history of the company and its accomplishments over the past 40 years.

She spoke in monotone.  She flashed a timeline on the screen.  Little pictures and graphics highlighted her points.

I wondered what all of this might mean.

I waited for a linking thread.

Craft a superb presentation opening
Grab Your Audience with The Presentation Opening

I waited for her main point.

As the four-minute mark approached, my brow furrowed.  The linking thread had not come.

The linking thread would never come . . . it dawned on me that she had no point.  At the end of her segment, I asked a gentle question.

“Janie, what was that beginning all about?  How did your segment relate to Wal-Mart’s strategic challenges in the case at hand?”

“Those were just random facts,” she said.

“Random facts?”

“Yes!” she said brightly.

And she was quite ingenuous about it.

She had recited a litany of “random facts,” and she thought that it was an acceptable way to begin a business case presentation.  I do not say this to disparage her.  Not at all.  In fact, she later became one of my most coachable students, improving her presentation skills tremendously.

She has since progressed to graduate school.  And now she delivers powerful presentation openings.

But what could convince a student that an hodge-podge of “random facts” is acceptable at the beginning of a presentation?  Is it the notion that anything you say for a presentation opening is okay?

Let’s go over the beginning, shall we?

The Right Presentation Opening

Together, let’s craft a template beginning that you can always use, no matter what your show is about.  When you become comfortable with it, you can then modify it to suit the occasion.

You begin with your presentation opening.  Here, you present the Situation Statement.

The Situation Statement tells your audience what they will hear.  It’s the reason you and your audience are there.  What do you tell them?

The audience has gathered to hear about a problem and its proposed solution.

Or to hear of success and how it will continue.  Or to hear of failure and how it will be overcome . . . or to hear of a proposed change in strategic direction.

Don’t assume that everyone knows why you are here.  Don’t assume that they know the topic of your talk.  Ensure that they know with a powerful Situation Statement.

A powerful situation statement centers the audience – Pow!  It focuses everyone on the topic.

An Especially Powerful Situation Statement

Don’t meander into your show with chummy talk.

Don’t tip-toe into it.  Don’t be vague.  Don’t clutter your presentation opening with endless apologetics or thank yous.

What do I mean by this?  Let’s say your topic is the ToughBolt Corporation’s new marketing campaign. Do not start this way:

“Good morning, how is everyone doing?  Good.  Good!  It’s a pleasure to be here, and I’d like to thank our great board of directors for the opportunity.  I’m Dana Smith and this is my team, Bill, Joe, Mary, and Sophia.  Today, we’re planning on giving you a marketing presentation on ToughBolt Corporation’s situation.  Again, thank you for your attention and time.  We’re hoping that—”

No . . . no . . . and no.

Direct and to-the-point is best. Pow!

Try starting this way:

Craft a powerful presentation opening for energy
Especially Powerful hooks and grabbers for your presentation opening

“Today we present ToughBolt’s new marketing campaign — a campaign to regain the 6 percent market share lost in 2009 and increase our market share by another 10 percent.  A campaign to lead us into the next four quarters to result in a much stronger and competitive market position 12  months from now.”

You see?  This is not the best intro, but it’s solid.  No “random facts.”  No wasted words.

No metaphorical throat-clearing.

No backing into the presentation, and no tiptoeing.  Just an especially powerful and direct statement of the reason you are there.

Put the Pow in Power!

Now, let’s add some Pow to it.  A more colorful and arresting introductory Situation Statement might be:

“Even as we sit here today, changes in the business environment attack our firm’s competitive position three ways.  How we respond to these challenges now will determine Toughbolt’s future for good or ill . . . for survival or collapse.  Our recommended response?  Aggressive growth.

“We now present the source of those challenges, how they threaten us, and what our marketing team will do about it to retain Toughbolt’s position in the industry and to continue robust growth in market share and profitability.”

Remember in any story, there must be change.

The very reason we give a case presentation is that something has changed in the company’s fortunes.  We must explain this change.  We must craft a response to this change.  And we must front-load our intro to include our recommendation.

That is why you have assembled your team.  To explain the threat or the opportunity.  To provide your analysis.  To provide your recommendations.

Remember, put Pow into your beginning.  Leverage the opportunity when the audience is at its most alert and attentive.

Craft a Situation Statement that grabs them and doesn’t let go.

For more on crafting an especially powerful presentation opening, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

 

The Presentation Soft Skills Myth

Business Presentation Soft Skills for Personal Competitive Advantage
Bust the presentation soft skills myth

Let’s explode the presentation soft skills myth right now.

When higher education folks label something a “soft skill,” students automatically drop that “soft skill” to the bottom of the learning priority list.

It becomes something to “pick up along the way.”  And if you don’t actually learn the “soft skill,” well . . . so what?

It is, after all, a “soft skill.”

This is hokum of the worst sort, but it’s the attitude of many young people, including my daughter, who ought to know better.  One of those “soft skills” is the set of skills required to deliver an especially powerful business presentation.

Business Presentation Soft Skills Myth

One reason that you see so many bad business presentations is this pervasive presentation soft skills myth.

These skills are apparently so “soft” that one of my former colleagues believes he can inculcate adequate presentation skill in, as he says, “30 minutes.”

Such is the myth of the soft skill.

This suggests that skill at business presenting is somehow “softer” than, say, accounting.  It therefore needs less attention or development.

It must be somehow “easier.”  It must be simply a matter of opinion.

It’s probably something that can be “picked up along the way.”

Many people believe this.  It can needlessly limit the early careers of young people, who form a wrong impression of the craft of speaking publicly.

Public Speaking – excellent public speaking – is tough.

To deliver a superb business presentation is one of the tougher tasks, because it often requires coordination with others in a kind of ballet.

The Reality of Business Presentation Skills

Adopt Especially Powerful Business Presentation Soft Skills available
Powerful Business Presentation Soft Skills can confer personal competitive advantage

And it requires practice, just like any other discipline.

But invariably, the “soft skill” label moves it down the priority list of faculty and college administrators and, hence, of the students they serve.

I can quickly gauge the attention on business presenting skills at an institution by simply watching a cross-section of presentations.

To be generous, student business presentations are usually poor across a range of dimensions.

They come across most often as pedestrian.  Many are quite bad.

But this is not to say that they are worse than what passes for presenting in the corporate world.  They’re usually as good – or as bad – as what is dished out in the “real world.”

The Great Embarrassment

The great embarrassment is that the majority of business students have untapped potential for becoming competent and especially powerful business presenters.

And yet they falter.

They never realize that potential, because they never progress out of the swamp of poor business presentation skills.

Some students pass through the business school funnel with only cursory attention to business presentation skills.  Perhaps I’m too demanding, and the degree of attention I’d like to see just isn’t possible.

But . . .

But the craft of business presenting needs only the proper focus for it to transform young people into capable and competent presenters.

And some institutions get it right.

Business Presentation Soft Skills for an Especially Powerful Personal Brand
Grab those Presentation Soft Skills, so-called, and create a powerful personal brand!

I’m blessed to serve an institution that takes business presentation skills seriously.

My school’s winning results in case competitions demonstrates this commitment to preparing business students to excel in the most-demanded skill that corporate recruiters seek.

A coterie of professors, particularly in finance, recognizes the power bestowed by sharp business presentation skills.

And they emphasize these skills far beyond the norm in most schools.

Administrators, too, insist that students pass through rigorous workshops that inculcate in students the presenting skills to last a business lifetime.

Presentation Skills = Powerful Brand

The results can be phenomenal.  Merely by exposure to the proper techniques, students gain tremendous personal career advantage.

By elevating business presentation skills to the same level of the sub-disciplines of, say, marketing, operations, or risk management, B-Schools can imbue their students and faculty with the appropriate reverence for the presentation enterprise.

One result of this is the molding of young executives who tower over their peers in terms of presenting skills.

And especially powerful business presentation skills are in high demand by corporate recruiters.

This highly refined skill of delivering stunning business presentations becomes part of a powerful and distinctive personal brand.

A brand that cannot be copied easily and so becomes part of a personal competitive advantage that can last a lifetime.

There is much to be distilled from 2500 years of recorded presentation wisdom, and we can hardly consider this treasure house of knowledge presentation soft skills.

The wisdom and power are there, waiting to be tapped.  It remains for us to seize it, explode the presentation soft skills myth, and make it our own for enhanced personal competitive advantage.

For more on especially powerful business presentation skills, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

 

The Fallacy of “Presentation Tips”

Especially Powerful Presentations
It takes more than “Tips”

With regard to presentations and so-called “presentation tips,” I deal with two large groups of people.

For descriptive simplicity, let’s call these two groups “Natural Born” and “McTips!”

“Natural Born” and “McTips!” represent two extreme views of what it takes to become an especially powerful and superior business presenter.

Neither view is remotely accurate.  And neither group is what might be called enlightened in these matters.

Members of both groups are frustrating and irritating in their own ways and completely self-serving.

Here is why . . .

Tale of Two Errors

We often look for folks to excuse us from what, deep down, we know we ought to do, or what we can do.

If we look hard enough, we find what we search for, and excuses are extremely easy to find.  Let’s look at these two excuses that hold us back from fulfilling our potential as especially powerful presenters.

The first view would have us believe that great speakers are born with some arcane and unfathomable gift, combining talent and natural stage facility.

Especially Powerful Speaking
No, it’s not “natural born” talent

The first view would have us believe that Bill Clinton sprang from the womb declaiming that he feels our pain.

That Ronald Reagan was born orating on lower capital gains taxes.

That Oprah Winfrey began her talk show career in kindergarten.

If these great speakers were born with rarefied talent, then how might we become like them if we haven’t the genes for it?

Business Presentation Tips?

Doesn’t this sound foolish?

If the first view holds that great speakers are born with a gift, then quite logically this view leaves the rest of us to strive with middling presentation skills.

It’s an excuse for us not to persevere.  Why bother to try?

Why not, instead, hire some of these natural born speaker types to do the heavy presentation lifting?

The rest of us can skate along and pretend that we’re not actually lazy . . . or frightened . . . or disinterested . . . or unambitious.

The second view is the opposite of the first.

This “McTips!” perspective would have us believe that delivering effective presentations is a snap.

The Second View . . . Presentation Tips!

So easy, in fact, that one of my colleagues assured me confidently and with not a little hubris that he could teach his undergraduates “everything they need to know about presenting in 30 minutes.”

He also assured me that “all that other stuff you talk about is B.S.”

Has the presentation landscape changed so much that what was once taught as a fine skill is now mass-produced in 30-minute quickie sessions of speaking “tips”?

I actually saw a headline on an article that offered 10 Tips to Become a Presentation God!

Have the demands of the presentation become so weak that great presenting can be served up in McDonald’s-style kid meals . . . “You want to super-size your speaking McTips?”

Hardly.

Especially Powerful Business Presentations
McTips – Presentation Fast Food

In the 1800s, public speaking was refined to an almost-art; “elocution” was the new science/art, and departments of elocution and public speaking flourished in universities throughout the land.

In Philadelphia, on Walnut Street in fact, the National School for Elocution and Oratory became a Mecca for would-be stars of the pulpit, the stage, the bar, and the political wars in the 1890s.  It published books like this one.

On into the first decades of next century, public speech was regarded with respect and a high-skill to be mastered with much study and practice.

The fact is that despite however much we might wish otherwise, today’s PowerPoint high-tech software multi-media offerings cannot change the fundamental truth that it is still you who must deliver the presentation.

So no . . . you cannot learn “everything you need to know about presenting in 30 minutes.”

You cannot become an especially powerful presenter at the fast-food drive-in window, unless you want to ply presenting at the lowest common denominator.  Unless you want to become one of the multitude of mundane slide-readers who populate every business and law firm from New York to Nashville, from Boston to Baton Rouge, from Savannah to San Diego.

Ask yourself . . . if learning to deliver top-notch presentations is so fabulously easy, then why are 9 out of 10 presentations such awful forgettable bore-fests?  (and that’s a kind estimate).

The Third View – The Power Zone

There is a third group, and it is destined to remain small.

This group is privy to the truth, and once you learn the truth about presenting, you can never go back to viewing presentations the same way.  Consider this pop culture analogy from the 1999 film The Matrix.

In The Matrix, humans live in a world that is not what it seems. In fact, everything they believe about the world is false.  Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburn) promises to reveal the truth to Neo (Keanu Reeves) about his existence.

Morpheus offers Neo a Blue Pill and a Red Pill.  The Blue Pill returns him to his old state of ignorance.  The Red Pill reveals the secret, and once he learns it, Neo cannot return to his old life.

The process of presentation discovery is much like the red-pill/blue-pill choice that Morpheus offers to the young computer hacker Neo . . .

You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Likewise, you can stop reading this article this instant – the blue pill – and return to the righteous and relaxing world of “Natural Born” or “McTips!”  Both viewpoints allow the average presenter to remain mired in mediocrity with an excuse that sounds plausible.

One perspective means you don’t try at all, while the other means you offer token effort as befits a low-level pedestrian task.

So, if you decide to take the Blue Pill, close this site and go your own way.  Bon voyage!  I wish you a hearty good-luck and Godspeed, and perhaps you will be happier for your choice.

But if you are one of the few who thinks for a moment . . .  “Hmm. What if the Professor is right?”

Then . . . Take the Red Pill

Then you can read on to the next brief paragraph – the red pill – and be forever stripped of the excuse for mediocrity.  For the truth is in the Power Zone, and once there, you will never be satisfied with your old presentation life again.

You cannot go back.

That’s the paradox, the Curse of Freedom.  It is completely within your power to seize the fruits of great presenting.  It’s your choice.

You can launch an auspicious presentation career right now, right this minute.  Or you can dismiss this site as yet another fraudulent claim to revealing secrets to you . . .  only to have it exposed as a method that requires you to actually do something.

Presentation Tips?  No way!
Choose the Red Pill and Become an Especially Powerful Presenter

A method that transforms you.

Choose the Red Pill.  Step boldly into the Power Zone.

The Power Zone is the province of the privileged few who understand the truth that anyone can become a great presenter, with the right kind of hard work and the willingness to become a great presenter.

To join this third group requires you to take on a new state of mind.

A willingness to learn about stance.  About voice.  About drama.  About gesture.  About movement.

About 100 seemingly small things that add up to an especially powerful business presentation.

If you already carry this view, that’s superb.  If you don’t . . . you can decide now to adopt it or forever be relegated to the other two groups – believing you’re not good enough, or believing you are good enough when you’re actually not.

Public presentations – great presentations – require study and practice and preparation and technique.  Not “presentation tips.”

A deep philosophical, academic, and professional history undergirds public speaking.  This history informs the very best presenters and their work.  You dismiss it only to your great loss.

No, you need not become a scholar of public speaking.

In fact, few people have that deep an interest in the subject and even fewer can claim that kind of knowledge today.

But what you can and should do is this:  Open your mind and heart to the possibilities of found treasure.

You actually can become a capable presenter.  You can become a great presenter.  When you enter the Power Zone, you are both cursed and blessed with knowledge.  This knowledge represents two sides of the same coin.

You are cursed with the knowledge that the only limitation you have is you.  You are blessed with the knowledge that you can become a good – even great – speaker.

An especially powerful presenter.

Now, you have no other real excuse.  It’s totally up to you.

For the ultimate guide to developing your personal brand as an especially powerful business presenter, CLICK HERE.

100 Things – Business Presentation Alchemy

Perhaps it’s human nature that leads us to search for singlephilos answers.

The search for the Global Solution has gone on as long as men have searched for the Philosopher’s Stone (and perhaps even longer, but not jotted down).

Likewise, this is the case for business presentations.

No Easy Way Out

We seek easy solutions, the quick fix, the “secret” to turn a drab, staid, listless presentation into one that brims with vigor, zest, and elan.

An especially powerful presentation.

Failing that, perhaps just something that can flog a bit of life into our tired efforts.

One evening, we may see a memorable, delightful, scintillating presentation.  It’s a show that engages us, that sparkles with memorable visuals and that implants core ideas and powerful notions in our minds.  A great presentation!

What made it a great presentation?

Business Presentation Alchemy
No Global Solution Exists to Create Presentation Gold

Many folks answer with one – maybe two reasons.  This is akin to medieval alchemists searching for a method to transform lead into gold.

A shortcut to wealth.

And so we contrive abstractions and unsatisfactory responses:

The speaker was interesting.

The topic was relevant and au courant.  Torn from today’s headlines!

It was the audience . . . he had a good audience!

But none of these easy answers yield something that we can actually use . . . something we can operationalize in our show.

This is because no easy answer exists.

No one reason.  No single technique.

There is no business presentation alchemy.  Except in the notion that we must get lots of things right.

The superb business presenter does 100 things right, while the bad business presenter does 100 things wrong.

What are the “100 Things?”

Is it exactly 100?

Of course not, no more than great writing consists in getting exactly 100 things right, instead of getting them wrong.

For any talk, it could be 90 things, or it could be 150 things.  Or something else.

The “100 things” trope suffices to convey that great presentations are planned and orchestrated according to set principles that can be learned, and those principles consist in proven practices.

Lots of them.

Practices that replace unthinking habits.

Especially Powerful
100 Things to Transform your Presentation

Techniques of posture, voice, syntax, gestures, topic, presentation structure, your expression, confidence, your movement . . . all of these done well or done poorly combine to yield either an especially powerful presentation . . . or a dud.

Go to Scott’s Lessons, the book that inspired and taught Abraham Lincoln as he grew into one of America’s great orators, and you will find a wealth of powerful techniques to transform even the most mundane of speakers into a champion.

More than 100 things?  Surely.

The important lesson is that great presenting is assembled from the verbal and non-verbal construction materials we select.

Lots of mistakes make for awful shows.  Getting those 100 things right yield a show that’s spectacular for no single, discernible reason.  It’s the power of synergy.

Take just one aspect of your show – the way you stand.  Have you ever thought about it?  Where you stand?  How you stand?

If you’ve never given it thought, then you’re likely doing it wrong.  To learn how to adopt the perfect (for you) stance, go here and the secret shall be revealed.  And you’ll have learned a handful of the essential 100 things to launch you on your way to presentation power.

The next step, of course, is to actually do it.  In your next presentation.

More of the 100 Things that constitute Business Presentation Alchemy here.

The Bad Business Presentation

Are Bad Presentations necessary?
Add spice to break the Law of Bad Business Presentations

Is there some law, somewhere, that dictates that business presentations must be bad?

Given the number of long, dull, pedantic, repetitious, boring, confusing – bad – presentations I see both inside and outside of the business school, I suspect there must be some common law tradition that speaks to the topic.

Bad Business Presentations are Everywhere

Bad business presentations can be a career-killer.

No one will tell you this, of course.

A conspiracy of silence surrounds bad business presentations and the people who give them.  Yet Bad Business Presentations are given everywhere, sprouting like kudzu along a North Carolina highway . . .

. . . and because they are everywhere, we think that bad business presentations must be legitimate.

They must be the norm.  They must be bad, because that’s just the way it is.

But this is heinous myth, and this myth perpetuates itself like some kind of awful oral tradition.

You see a bad business presentation that some people praise as good.  It looks like this . . .

Some Vice President from a visiting company stands in front of you, hands gripping a lectern.  He reads from slides with  dozens of bullet points taken from a written paper and pasted onto PowerPoint slides.

He alternates looking at a prepared text in front of him and turning to look at a projection screen behind him.  He rarely looks at you.

A Wasteland On the Screen

Unreadable spreadsheets appear on the screen.  Legions of tiny numbers march in cadence.

The presenter reads slide-after-slide verbatim, his head turned away from you.  You realize, finally, that he is reading the slides together with everyone in the audience.

It’s boring.

It’s unintelligible.

Bad Business Presentation
The Bad Business Presentation Wasteland

The slides are unreadable or irrelevant.

It’s a bad presentation, and you can’t remember a thing except the three texts you received during the presentation as you checked your iPhone between yawns.

You could legitimately ask yourself, “Is this all there is?”

If bad business presentations are the norm, you scratch your chin and perhaps you think “That’s not hard at all.”  I can be as bad as the next person.

Cobble Together a Few Slides

Cobble something like that together, and you think you have a business presentation.

And why wouldn’t you think that?

It seems to have all the elements:  A speaker-reader of slides (you), a PowerPoint display on the screen with writing on it, some numbers, and a five-minute time slot to fill with talk.

Bad Business Presentations are the career kiss of death
Stop giving bad business presentations!

But what you actually have is something awful.

You don’t know what you want to accomplish . . . or why.

You have no idea what you should say . . . or why.

And you don’t view yourself as benefiting from the process in any way.  Instead, you see it as something painful.

Because it is painful.

It’s a bad business presentation that is painful and awful because of the way it’s been explained to you.

Because the explanations are incomplete.  Because you never get the whole story.  Teaching you how to deliver a cogent, competent, powerful business presentation is always someone else’s job.

This can be a problem because your career often hinges on how well you can present.  And if you present badly, you needlessly handicap yourself.

I Feel Your Pain

Sure, there are “presentation”courses.  But it seems that the good folks who actually provide you some sort of presenting instruction in school are often disconnected from your business courses.

They teach you “How to give a speech” or “How to introduce yourself.”  But you don’t have the opportunity to engage in a complex group business presentation.

Oftentimes, these folks aren’t even in the business school.  They can’t show you how to incorporate business content into your presentations – things like the SWOT, value chain analysis, financial analysis, PEST, Five Forces, and such like.

And on occasion, professors in your business courses demonstrate the same malaise that plagues business at-large.

For most of your professors, presenting is secondary.  This makes sense, as each faculty has a specialty or functional discipline he or she is charged with teaching.

Business “presenting” is no one’s functional discipline.  So it goes unaddressed, orphaned to expediency and neglect.

It’s the same in the corporate world.  Your presenting woes are the same woes that scourge the American business landscape.

Boring, dull, numbing . . . all of this is equated wrongly with “serious.”  Consequently, we get the bad business presentation as the standard.

The Malaise in Corporate America

I attended a business conference on the west coast not long ago.  I had the misfortune to witness some of the worst speaking I have ever heard coupled with use of incredibly bad visuals PowerPoint visuals.

Monotone voices.

Busy slides with tiny letters.

Listeners shifting in their seats.

Motionless speakers planted behind a lectern.

Aimless and endless talking with seemingly no point.

Cramped and crowded slides.

No preparation and no practice attended these presentations.

Papers shuffling in the audience, because handouts were given prior to the talk.

This is more common than you might imagine.

Communications consultant Andy Goodman conducted major research on the issue in 2005, surveying more than 2,500 public interest professionals and asking them to evaluate their presentation viewing experiences.

The average grade public interest professionals gave to the presentations they attended was C-.  The average grade given to the visuals that respondents observed in presentations they attended was also C-.

Survey respondents were asked to recall presentations they had seen over the last few months.  They said they were more than likely to see a bad business presentation as to see an excellent one.

This is the current state of presentations in corporate America and in business schools.  Is it uniformly bleak?  No, of course not.

Glimmers of Hope . . . Gigantic Opportunity

Generalizations are just that – general in nature.

I have seen enough fine presentations to understand that, somewhere, superb instruction holds sway.  Or, at the least, young people whose early development has trained them for the stage have found their way to the business platform.

Good for them.

But for the most part, it is as I have described here.

And this opens up magnificent opportunity for you.

Now that you understand the situation and why it exists, it’s time for you to join the ranks of superior presenters.  Becoming a superior presenter means gaining incredible personal competitive advantage that is difficult to imitate.

By investing your presentations with passion, emotion, and enthusiasm, you deliver especially powerful shows with persuasive power.  Presentations that are anything but dull.  So . . .

It’s time for your debut.

Time to break the Law of Bad Business Presentations.

Interested in more on fixing bad business presentations?  Consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Three Ps for Especially Powerful Presentations

Especially Powerful Presentations
The Three Ps of Business Presentations can greatly enhance your presentation delivery for an especially powerful presentation every time

It’s always helpful when the key words that describe your especially powerful presentation all start with the same letter.

In this case we speak of the Three Ps of Business Presentations.

The “Three Ps of Business Presenting” encompass everything you must do to deliver especially powerful presentations every time.

They are, in order . . .

Principles

          Preparation

                     Practice

If you have spent any time at all in this space, you already know about the “Seven Secrets of Power Presenting.”

Now, you might head-scratch and wonder how the “Seven Secrets” mesh with the “Three Ps of Business Presenting.”

A fair question.

For Especially Powerful Presentations

The “Principles” referred to are the Seven Secrets, the pillars of your transformation into an especially powerful presenter.

Learning and improving on the Seven dimensions of power presenting is essential to your presentation quest in a broadest sense.

You don’t improve on the seven dimensions of presenting overnight . . . it requires application and adoption of the proper habits of behavior.

This may appear intuitive, but too often I see students who appear to understand the seven secrets but do not apply them for a host of reasons.  Perhaps good reasons, in their own minds.

3 Ps of Business
You always have a choice. Choose to implement the Three Ps of Business Presenting, and you’ll find that your delivery improves immensely

And yet, the choice cripples them in their presentations.

When it comes to individual presentations, you must apply your principles.  And this means preparation.

It means practice.

Don’t assume that you know what I mean by preparation and practice, because we likely have different conceptions of both, and I’m betting you’ll like the results you get from the approach presented here.

So, settle in . . . and for the next couple of days, we will explore the Three Ps of Business Presenting and how their assiduous application can transform you into the Especially Powerful Presenter that you always knew you could be.

Stick Puppet Presenting? Upgrade to 3D!

Stick Puppet presenting
Eliminate Stick Puppet Presenting and you’re on your way to achieving personal competitive advantage

If experience is any guide for us, we can say that approximately 90 percent of our business presentations are delivered in 2-D fashion . . . stick-puppet presenting.

No, I don’t mean this literally in the sense that people become stick figures.

I mean that the typical business presentation is stripped of depth and breadth.

Stripped of humanity.

Stripped of the qualities that make it interesting, stimulating, and persuasive.

The potential richness, energy, vigor, and power that is provided by purposive movement is absent.

Crude Stick-Puppet Presenting

We are left with cutout figures, like stick puppets.  You’ve seen stick puppets.  They’re crude, flat little figures pasted onto sticks and then used in a child’s display to convey a story.

Rudimentary as it gets, the puppets shake and move up and down as someone voices dialogue from somewhere offstage.

Today’s business presentations are sometimes no better than stick-puppet presenting.

Call this the 2-D presentation.

Stick-Puppet Presenting is characterized by a zombie-like figure crouched behind a lectern, gripping its sides.

Or a speaker who reads from a laptop computer and alternately looks at a projection screen behind him, citing it verbatim.  If any movement occurs, it is unconscious swaying.

Or rocking, or nervous happy-feet dancing.

Stop stick puppet presenting for power and impact
Eliminate Stick Puppet Presentations for personal competitive advantage

Perhaps there is a bit of pacing back-and-forth to fulfill some ancient advice mumbled to the speaker years earlier:  “Move around when you talk!”

And so the stick-puppet presenter wanders about the stage.

This is worse than no movement at all.  It adds one more irrelevant distractor to an already deteriorating situation.

And you forfeit personal competitive advantage.

But we want movement . . . the right kind of movement.  We want to accelerate from 2-D to 3-D presenting.  One powerful step in that direction is the addition of proper movement.

The addition of proper movement to your presentation can imbue it with energy, depth, richness, and enhanced meaning.

So in the next series of posts, we’ll analyze this component – “movement” on the stage in support of your presentation.

If you want to eliminate stick puppet presenting and receive a full-bodied explication of the transition from 2D to 3D presenting, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Secret #7 – Presentation Passion

Business Presentation Passion
Presentation Passion?

Do you have presentation passion?

Do you invest your topic with energy and elan, regardless of whether it’s shampoo or sugar or ship-building?

What is it that fills you with the thrill of discovery, the adrenaline of newness?

What can compare with the natural high of applying yourself to a task that excites you?

What generates those endorphins?  What brings a smile to your face involuntarily?  What furrows your brow?

Is it “world hunger?”  Or European soccer?

Is it social injustice?  Is it political theory?  Is it comic book collecting? Chess?  Numismatics?  Tennis?  Travel to exotic locations?  Helping others solve problems?

Writing essays?  Fashion design?  Financial manipulations?  Reading  and then reflecting on a good book?

What’s your passion?  Do you even have one?

Is your Presentation Passion buried?

Likely as not, your passion has been buried under a ton of necessity, the debris we call the business of life.

f you find that your passion is buried, then this is the time to rescue it as one of the most potent factors in delivering your most powerful presentations.

Once you explore your own visceral feelings, your passion, it becomes that much easier to invoke presentation passion in your show.

To exhibit genuine enthusiasm for the subjects of your shows.

Can you generate presentation passion?  Of course you can.  Will it be “artificial” passion?  Of course not.  Passion is passion is passion.

presentation passion for power and impact
Especially Powerful Presentations all exhibit Presentation Passion

Unless you have passion for a subject and demonstrate that passion, you will always be at a disadvantage with respect to those who do.

If you are in competition with several other teams pitching a product or service to a company for millions of dollars – and there is no noteworthy difference in the quality or price of the service – then how does the potential customer decide?

On passion.

If he sees a real passion for the work in one team, if he feels the energy of a team driven to success and truly excited about the offering, don’t you think he’ll be inclined to the team that stirs his emotions?  The team that makes him see possibilities?

The team that helps him visualize a glorious future?

The team that shares his love and passion for his product or service and sees in you a shared passion for achieving something special in partnership?

Reread the previous paragraph, because it encapsulates so much of the presentation passion that is absent in presentations today, and so much of what is needed.

Centuries of Presentation Passion

Passion has served as a crucial element in verbal communication for centuries.  Here are two of my favorite quotations on its power:

“True emotional freedom is the only door by which you may enter the hearts of your hearers.”

            Brees and Kelley, 1931 

 “Earnestness is the secret of success in any department of life. It is only the earnest man who wins his cause.”

           S.S. Curry, 1895

Recognize in yourself the capacity for passion.  Recognize that you have the wherewithal to embrace even the most staid material, the “dullest” project.

Remember always that it is you who make it better.  You who invest it with excitement.

You are the alchemist.

Many times you hear an “interesting” presentation about an “interesting” topic.  It’s well-done, and it engaged you.

And you wonder why you never seem to get the “interesting” projects.

It’s your job to make it interesting

Have you ever admitted to yourself that you might be the missing ingredient?  That perhaps it is your task to invest a project with interest and zest?

That what makes a project “interesting” is not the topic . . . but rather the interaction between material and presenter.

Ultimately, it is your task to transform a “case” or business situation into an interesting and cogent presentation.  It’s your task to find the key elements of strategic significance and then to dramatize those elements in such a way that the audience is moved in powerful and significant ways.

And you don’t need an “interesting” case to do it.

You just need presentation passion.  More on how to develop especially powerful presentation passion here.

Secret #6 – Presentation Appearance

Professional Appearance
Presentation Appearance Matters

Let’s move from the realm of what you do and say in front of your audience to the realm of how you actually appear to your audience – presentation appearance.

Likewise, let’s immediately dismiss the notion that “it doesn’t matter what I look like . . . it’s the message that counts.”

In a word . . . no.

This is so wrong-headed and juvenile that you can turn this to immediate advantage.  Adopt the exact opposite perspective right now to achieve incredible presentation competitive advantage.

But I’d wager that most folks your age won’t, particularly those stuck in liberal arts, for better or worse.

Much more dramatic to strike a pose and deliver a mythic blow for “individuality” than to conform to society’s diktats, eh?

Well, let those folks strike their blows while you spiff yourself up for your presentations, both in public and in private job interviews, and gain a superior competitive advantage.

The Upshot – Presentation Appearance

Here is the bottom line.  Your appearance matters a great deal, like it or not, and it is up to us to dress and groom appropriate to the occasion and appropriate to our personal brand and the message we want to send.

Presentation Appearance
Presentation Appearance is about setting yourself apart . . . in a way that sells yourself and your ideas to others

“Slob cool” may fly in college – and I stress may – but it garners only contempt outside the friendly confines of the local student activities center and fraternity house.

Is that “fair?”

It certainly is fair.

You may not like it.  It may clang upon your youthful sensibilities.

Tough.

You’re on display in front of a group of buyers.  They want to know if your message is credible.  Your appearance conveys important cues to your audience.  It conveys one of two chief messages, with no room to maneuver between them.

First, your appearance telegraphs to your audience that you are:  sharp, focused, detailed, careful, bold, competent, prudent, innovative, loyal, energetic . . .

or . . .

Your appearance telegraphs to your audience that you are:  slow, sloppy, careless, inefficient, incompetent, weak, mercenary, stupid.

Presentation Appearance
Presentation Appearance is Part of Your Brand

Moreover, you may never know when you are actually auditioning for your next job.

That presentation you decided to “wing” with half-baked preparation and delivered in a wrinkled suit might have held in the audience a human resource professional recommended to you by a friend.

But you blew the deal.  Without even knowing it.

Think.  How many powerful people mentally cross you off their list because of your haphazard, careless appearance?

How many opportunities pass you by?

How many great connections do you forfeit?

Your Choice . . . Choose Well

Granted, it’s up to your discretion to dress in the first wrinkled shirt you pull from the laundry basket, but recognize that you may be paying a price without even knowing it.

Your appearance on the stage contributes or detracts from your message.  So, as a general rule, you should dress one half-step above the audience to convey a seriousness of purpose.  For instance, if the audience is dressed in business casual (sports coat and tie), you dress in a suit.  Simple.

Presentation Appearance
Powerful Presentation Appearance conveys a Powerful Message

But beyond your presentation, you are always on-stage.

You are always auditioning.

And you are creating your personal brand one wrinkled shirt at a time, one exposed pair of boxers at a time.

Or . . . clean, professional, sober, serious, decisive, thoughtful, and bold.

Personal appearance overlaps into the area of personal branding, which is beyond the scope of this space, but two books I recommend to aid you in your quest for appearance enhancement are You, Inc. and The Brand Called You.

Both of these books are worth the price and filled with stellar advice to propel you into delivering Especially Powerful Presentations enhanced by a superb presentation appearance.

 

Secret #4 – Presentation Drama

Especially Powerful Presentation Drama
Presentation Drama

Class had ended, and I was giving final feedback for a group that had just presented their business case and did so without presentation drama.

Not a bad group presentation by any means, but individual students needed work, and I like to give advice that young folks can carry with them beyond the classroom and on into the workaday world.

Not just advice, mind you, but nuggets that can confer personal competitive advantage for a lifetime.

As I briefed the presenters, a colleague entered the classroom and stood by, listening in.  He’s a smart man.  I respect him for his knowledge of finance.

A curious fellow, too.

Presentation Drama?

He took in my feedback as I advised students to eliminate a verbal gaffe called the “rising line” or the “verbal up-tic,” as I call it.  I was demonstrating this awful turn of voice.

The Verbal Up-tic or “uptalk” as it is sometimes called, is a verbal pathology that afflicts at least 50 percent of young presenters and is manifested by transforming simple statements of fact into questions.  The Brits call this the “Moronic Interrogative,” and you can probably guess that it is not a compliment.

By eliminating this awful verbal tic, you take a giant step toward presenting excellence.

My students packed up and left, and my colleague stepped up beside me.

Presentation Drama
Add Presentation Drama for More Power

“Well!  All this drama!  It looks and sounds like drama class.”

By now, I’m accustomed to the raised eyebrow of colleagues who look askance at some of the techniques I advocate.  It goes with the territory.  There is, after all, a kind of lock-step sameness in the faculty view of business presentations.

Deviations from the barebones structure are not appreciated nor are they recognized for the value they can add.

“You could well say that, Roger . . . there’s a big helping of drama here.  It’s much like putting on a show.  It’s why I call my presentations ‘shows’ and my students my ‘show-people.’”

Because this, in essence, is what visual and verbal communication is all about and how it differs drastically from written work.

“Showing”

It’s no accident that I use the word “show.”  This is what we do when we give a presentation . . . when we present.  We don’t deliver a presentation; we present.

The presentation is not something behind you on a screen.  The presentation is not on a whiteboard or butcher paper.  It’s not on a flip chart.

The presentation is you.

A large part of you is how you express yourself – your presence, your expression.  We are at our best when we incorporate presentation drama into our projects, and this is the catalyst that provides the grist for our expression and enthusiasm.

By drama, I do not mean the phony excitement and angst of “relationships” gone wrong, the depression of being brought low by a downer “text,” the anxiety of the “drama queen” or the pomposity of “King Drama.”

I mean the “dramatic situation.”

Life.  Variety.  Intensity.  Color.

You have drama inherent in any situation where there is conflict or the potential for conflict.

We in business, engaged as we are in competing to provide goods and services to our customers, are blessed with dramatic situations.

Business cases are chock full of drama – conflict, suspense, turning points, great decisions.  You simply must learn to recognize them and to bring them out.  It does not mean exaggerated behavior during your presentation, as noted by one of my favorite Speaking Masters of all time, Grenville Kleiser:

This is not a recommendation of paroxysms of feeling, wild gesticulation, tearing and combing of the hair with the fingers, violent pacing up and down the platform, and other manifestations of old-style oratory, happily now obsolete, but rather to suggest a power which, when properly used, will give life, variety, intensity, and color to the spoken message.

Life.  Variety.  Intensity.  Color.  These are what you strive for.

This theatrical aspect of presenting can, in theory, surely be overdone.  But given the staid status of business presenting, the danger of this in business presentations is nil.

I never see overdone business presentations, but I’d surely welcome one.

You can harness dramatic techniques to your business presenting style, and a number of books delve into this.  One of the finest books available on the subject is Ken Howard’s Act Natural, and I strongly urge its purchase if you are serious about taking your presenting power to a whole new level by incorporating presentation drama.

The speaking secret of expression is an advantage that should be yours and not just restricted as a privilege for those toiling in the theater or in film.

Remember that you have incredible power at your disposal in the form of expression that makes use of drama.

A curl of the lip.

A raise of one eyebrow.

Sincere furrows in the forehead.

A smile.

Speaking Master Joseph Mosher gave us one key secret to expression in 1928, and we would be wise to recognize his observation of the importance of the mouth and eyes.

[T]here is no one element of gesture which furnishes as unmistakable and effective an indication of the speaker’s thought and feeling as does the expression of the mouth and eyes.  The firm-set mouth and flashing eye speak more clearly than a torrent of words; the smile is as good as, or better than, a sentence in indicating good humor; the sneering lip, the upraised brow, or the scowl need no verbal commentary.

The secret power of presentation drama is yours for the taking.  You need only seize it to develop an especially powerful presentation.

Secret #3 – Powerful Presentation Gesture

What is presentation gesture, and why do we worry about it at all?

It’s nothing more than an add-on, right?  Something perhaps nice to have, but unessential to the point of our presentation.

Presentation Gesture
Incorporate Especially Powerful Presentation Gesture for Competitive Advantage

The fact is that you cannot separate sincerity from your appearance.  You can’t disaggregate movement from your inflection.  From your volume.

From your nuance.

And you cannot separate your words from gesture.

So let’s add the power of gesture to our words to achieve superior messaging.

What’s a Presentation Gesture?

A wave of the hand.

A snap of the finger.

A stride across the stage with arms outstretched to either side.

A scratch of the chin.

Crossed arms.

An accusatory finger.

A balled fist at the proper moment.

These are all gestures that can either enhance or destroy your presentation.  Destroy your presentation.

Professional presentation coaches understand that most of the information transmitted in a show is visual.  This is a result of the presence of the speaker.

Presentation Gesture
What Kind of Presentation Gesture?

An audio recording of a talk is not nearly as powerful as an actual live presentation.  Executive coach Lynda Paulson is spot-on when she notes the power of gestures to persuade an audience . . . or to alienate an audience, because “at least 85 percent of what we communicate in speaking is non-verbal.  It’s what people see in our eyes, in our movements and in our actions.”

Whether the percentage is accurate or not, undoubtedly, gestures provide energy, and accent.

They add power, emphasis, and meaning to our words.

Throughout the history of public speaking, the finest communicators have known the importance of the proper gesture at the proper time.

Especially Powerful Presentation Mastery

Entire books, in fact, have been written about gesture and the power it can bestow.  But most of this knowledge resides in the recesses of libraries waiting to be rediscovered.  See, for example, Edward Amherst Ott’s classic 1902 book How to Gesture.

Gesture is too important to leave to chance.  Certainly too important to dismiss with the airy “move around when you talk.”  Let’s understand exactly what it means.

In 1928, Joseph Mosher defined gesture in a way that guides us even today:  “Gesture may be broadly defined as visible expression, that is, any posture or movement of the head, face, body, limbs or hands, which aids the speaker in conveying his message by appealing to the eye.”

Gesture in your presentation should be natural. It flows from the meaning of your words and the meaning you wish to convey with your words.

We never gesture without reason or a point to make.  Typically, the emotion and energy in a talk leads us to gesture.

Without emotion, gesture is mechanical.  It’s false.  It feels and looks artificial.

Communicating Without Words

Presentation Gesture is part of our repertoire of non-verbal communication.  You have many arrows in the quiver of gesture from which to choose.  They can imbue your presentation with power.

On rare occasion, can imbue your presentation with majesty of epic proportions.

Yes, “majesty of epic proportions.”

Especially Powerful Presentation Gesture
The Power of Presentation Gesture is always underestimated

For if you do not begin to think in grand, expansive terms about yourself and your career, you will remain mired in the mud.  Stuck at the bottom.

Proper gesture increases your talk’s power and lends emphasis to your words.

In fact, gesture is essential to take your presentation to a superior level, a level far above the mundane.  You limit yourself if you do not gesture effectively as you present.

As with every craft, there is a correct way to gesture . . . and a wrong way.  Without a clear notion of how gesture can enhance our presentations, we are left with aimless ejaculations that can distract and leech away the power of our message and the audience’s confidence in our competence.

Accordingly, here are several of the more common examples of bad gesturing involving just your fingers.  These are so common that I cannot but believe that someone, somewhere is training folks in these oddities, and it’s the equivalent of self-sabotage.

Control Those Fingers!

Under no circumstances engage in “finger play.”

This is a habit many people develop unconsciously as they try to discover what to do with their hands.  You know you should do something with your appendages, but no one has told you what.  So you develop these unconscious motions.

Many different activities come under the heading of “finger play.”

Tugging at your fingers. I suspect that we all carry a “finger-tugging” gene embedded deep in our DNA that is suppressed only with difficulty.

Bending your fingers back in odd manner. This is a ubiquitous movement, universally practiced. It consists of grasping the fingers and bending them back, as if counting something, and then holding them there for a spell. It’s almost a finger-tug, but more pronounced.

Waving your hands around with floppy wrist movement. This is not only distracting, but the wobbly wrist action creates a perception of weakness and uncertainty.

Simply by eliminating these commonplace pathologies from your own presenting, you strengthen by subtraction.

The Power of Presentation Gesture

Why would you want to “gesture?”  Aren’t your words enough?

To add force to your points. To demonstrate honesty, decisiveness, humility, boldness, even fear.  A motion toward the door, a shrug, a lifted eyebrow – what words can equal these gestures?

While its range is limited, gesture carries powerful meaning.  It should carry powerful meaning; this form of nonverbal language predates spoken language.  Said James Winans in 1915:

Gesture, within its limitations, is an unmistakable language, and is understood by men of all races and tongues. Gesture is our most instinctive language; at least it goes back to the beginning of all communication when the race, still lacking articulate speech, could express only through the tones of inarticulate sounds and through movements.

Imagine the powerful communication you attain when, at the proper moment, your voice, your gestures, your movement, and your expressions combine.

You attain a powerful communication moment when your voice, your gestures, your movement, and your expressions align with the message and your visual aids to wash over your audience, suffusing them with emotion and energy.  Be spare with your gestures and be direct.  Make them count.

Look for more detailed analysis on the gestures available to you in this space in coming days.

Next up . . . Secret #4

Secret #1 (Part 2) – Your Ready Position

An especially powerful ready position
Your Ready Position

Your Ready Position.

Your ready position is the default stance you assume when giving your talk, when not emphasizing a point with movement and gesture.

Think a moment about how you stand while you give your talk.

I refer to the time when you’re not moving about the stage to emphasize this or that point.

This especially powerful ready position is your anchor, your life preserver in a storm. Your safe harbor.

Powerful . . . Confident . . . In command

When you stride to the stage, move to the command position in front of the lectern and facing the crowd.

Now, plant yourself as you would a paving stone in a garden.  Plant yourself firmly, as a stone, with feet shoulder-width apart, weight evenly distributed, shoulders squared.  Plant yourself as a deeply rooted Redwood.

Do not slouch or put more weight on one foot than on the other.  Point your toes slightly outward.  Neither slump, nor stiffen. Shoulders back, head up, expectant.

Do not allow your head to settle down betwixt your collar bones. This compresses your neck like a collapsed concertina.   It cramps your voice box and cuts the flow of air that you need to speak.

At this point, let your hands hang loosely at your sides . . . (in a moment, we’ll give you something to do with your hands).

Walking and pointing and looking and eye-contact?  Forget it for now.

Forget it all for now.

First, you must seize control of yourself and adopt your strong, basic stance and make it your habit.

You must control all of those little tics and habits and nervous gestures that leech the strength from your presentation.  The tics and habits that telegraph your nervousness and lack of confidence.

What tics and habits, you say?  Every young presenter has at least some of them and the ready position can help remedy the following pathologies.

Do Not cross your leg in front of you while you balance on the other.  This “standing cross” is more prevalent, for some reason, among female presenters than among males.  Some males have this habit as well.  This is a particularly debilitating movement from both the standpoint of the audience and for you.  It projects instability.  And it makes you feel unstable.

Do Not cock your hip to one side – this is called a “hip-shot.”  Again, this action undermines your foundation.  This hip-shot posture degrades your presentation in multiple ways.  It shouts nonchalance.  It denotes disinterest and impatience.  It cries out to the audience a breezy bar demeanor that is completely at odds with the spoken message you want to convey.

Do Not engage in little choppy steps.  This side-to-side dance is common.  It telegraphs nervousness.

Do Not slump your shoulders.  Few things project lack of confidence like rounded shoulders.  Slumping shoulders can be a reflexive response to nervousness that leads to a “closed body position.”

Again.  Stand in one place, your feet comfortably shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed outward.  Arms at your sides.

Your Foundation – Your Ready Position

Your goal at this point is to maintain a solid physical foundation.  To project an image of confidence to the audience and to imbue yourself with confidence in point of fact.  You begin to do this with your stance – solid and confident.

Now here is the most important guidance for your Foundation “Ready” position.

Stand as described, and place your left hand in your pants pocket, out of the way.  This position should be your default position.  Putting the hand in your pocket gets it out of the way and keeps you out of trouble.  Moreover, it projects confidence.

If you have no pocket, ease your left hand a bit behind you and to the side.  No, not in a military posture, but enough to disengage it.  If you are left-handed, of course disengage your right hand.

And, no, it is not “unprofessional.”  This position carries a multitude of positives and no negatives.  You never go wrong with this position.

It imbues you with confidence and keeps you copacetic.  To your audience, it projects competence, confidence, reassurance, and sobriety:  “Here is someone who knows his/her stuff.”

This is your Ready Position.

Especially Powerful Ready Position
Your Ready Position Communicates Power

Everything else you do flows from this position.  Practice your two-minute talk from this position and do not move.

Stop!

Stop and think.  When you are ready to make a point that is crucial to your thesis . . .  When you are ready to shift subjects or major ideas . . . then

Then, step to the left while addressing the people on the left flank. Talk to them.  Then, step to the right and address those on your right.  Hold open your hands, palms up.  Walk toward your audience a step or two. Look them in the eyes. Speak to individuals.

Then, step back to the center and retake your ready position.

Let your movements emphasize your points. When you gesture to a portion of the audience, step toward them in a kind of supplication.

And always always, always go back to the ready postion.  I have seen dozens of young speakers transformed into capable, confident speakers by virtue of this alone.

How is that possible?  By removing the doubt associated with “How will I stand.”

This powerful and stable ready position imbues you with confidence, your first step toward building positive energy within yourself.

The Ready Position — it’s your safe harbor in a sea of presentation uncertainty.

7 Secrets of Especially Powerful Presentations

Especially Powerful Presentations
The Secrets of Especially Powerful Presentations are right here

Could there be anything more tantalizing than especially powerful presentation secrets?

Because everyone loves secrets.

Dark secrets.

Sweet secrets.

Secrets to tickle the fancy.  Secrets to gain the upper hand.

And not just one secret . . . but seven of them!

 7 Secrets of Power Presenting

Today we launch the seven secrets of especially powerful presenting.  These 7 Secrets promise to launch you to personal competitive advantage in an ever more challenging job market.

Especially powerful presentation techniques are coming to you over the next two weeks, one every-other-day, right here in your Especially Powerful Presentations Blog.

Have these secrets heretofore been hidden from you?

They certainly don’t appear in your business communication textbooks.  Face it . . . has anything good ever come out of a business communication textbook?

So where do these secrets come from?

They reside in the collective wisdom of more than 2,500 years of history.  This is the link that you share with every great speaker that history has seen fit to remember – you share their humanity.  And this is why their secrets speak to us across the mists of time.

Cicero in 50 BC?

You in 2015 AD?

More than two millennia separate you from the Roman Republic’s greatest orator, so what could you possibly have in common with a man half-a-world away and 2,000 years ago?

Here’s the link

Especially Powerful Presentations
History is Filled with Especially Powerful Presentations

Perhaps Cicero spoke to the Roman Senate during the last days of the Roman Republic, while you now speak to your Business Capstone class with PowerPoint on the screen behind you . . . but you both share a core necessity.

You share the necessity to convince your audience by using a handful of reliable tools that have not changed in two thousand years.

For our purposes, the greatest orators in history are still alive with respect to their techniques, their tools, their words, and their abilities to sway audiences.

Demosthenes

Cicero

Quintilian

Patrick Henry

Frederick Douglass

William Jennings Bryan

Daniel Webster

Abraham Lincoln

What could these long-gone people possibly say to you to help you become a superior presenter here in the 21st Century?

All of these orators and many more utilized the highly refined and powerful secrets of elocution, declamation, debate, and oratory to command the stage and to sway audiences.  They were the superior presenters of their day.

Their techniques and tools comprise the 7 Secrets of Especially Powerful Presentations.

Tools of the Best

The best speakers of the past 50 years use and have used these Secrets – Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King.

They don’t announce that they’re using secret techniques and tricks of the trade, of course.  They wouldn’t be secrets any longer.

So they let you believe that they were gifted with special talents.

Not a chance.  Techniques, practice, personal branding . . . and 7 Secrets.

Especially Powerful Presentation Techniques
An Especially Powerful Presentation is not the exclusive province of the famous

You begin to learn these Seven Secrets over the next 14 days.

They are the secrets utilized by every great orator until the age of television, radio, and the computer rendered them lost to the vast majority of us.

They faded from use, supplanted by technology in the mistaken belief that technology had rendered you, the presenter, superfluous.

And so presenting as a skill has withered.  Until now.

These secrets do not appear in today’s textbooks, and they appear only in partial form in many trade books.  Many students don’t even know about them.  They believe that great presenting is alchemy, magic, or a product of superior talent.

Many don’t reach the point at which you read these words right now.  Many who read these words this second sneer at them with a world-weary sigh.

But a tiny minority reads on.

A tiny minority will join me tomorrow, and the next two weeks . . .

And that select few will begin to acquire the power, dexterity, energy, and charisma to grow into a bold presenter – at home on the stage, at ease with yourself, and facile with the material.  You will become a fabulous business presenter.

And you will acquire personal competitive advantage to last a lifetime.

With each post, the door opens on a new Secret, and you are presented with a challenge.

Master these Seven Secrets, which form the Seven Pillars of your personal speaking platform, and you will soar higher in the business world than you possibly could have imagined.  And your career will soar farther and faster than you ever thought possible.

I hope that you are in that tiny minority that continues to read.

Let’s meet here in a couple of days for Secret #1.

Best Business Presentation Books of the Year!

One of the Best Presentation books of 2013
Best Business Presentation Books

It occurred to me to compile a list of the best business presentation books for readers of this blog so as to launch an especially powerful new year.

It’s really an obvious exercise, isn’t it?

“Best of” lists are always popular.

And could be better than a compendium of the best books chock full of presentation wisdom to hone our skill set?

Great advice to lift our presentation to what we all sometimes refer to as “the next level.”

And then the equally obvious thought occurred to me – that list already exists.

The Best Business Presentation Books

In fact, I’m certain that several lists are already out there making the rounds.

And so I do the next best thing in this space . . .

I’ve sifted through I offer you a take from a fellow by the name of Dan Roam.  Earlier this year, Dan offered his own perspective on what makes for great presentations, and I share that with you here.

I’m a fan of anyone who wants to improve our public speaking skills and does so in an entertaining and accessible way.  Dan does this well, so have a look . . . and consider his recommendations on the best business presentation books!

Yes, you can learn something about business presenting from a book.

Quite a bit, actually.

The trick is to find the right book.

Top 3 Best Business Presentation Books

My personal favorites are Presenting to Win, by Jerry Weissman and Slide:ology, by Nancy Duarte, The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons.

These three books, for me, capture the spirit, the art, and the craft of especially powerful business presenting.

They advocate change.

You must actually change the way your deliver your presentations in ways that, at first, may discomfort you.  This should be an obvious point, but it escapes many folks.

We say we want to improve, but almost all of us really want to keep on doing what we’re already doing . . . and be told that it’s fine.

But if our presenting is unsatisfactory, then we really must change.

And these are changes that you must accept to become an especially powerful business presenter.

Best Presentation Books for 2013
Best Presentation Books . . . this one on PowerPoint Slides

The Story Factor, in particular, is strong in transforming your presentations into sturdy narratives that capture an audience and propel your listeners to action.  Consult Annette Simmons for deep learning about the power of storytelling.

A fourth book does not appear on the list.  Actually, it does, but only in a modified form.  This is Dale Carnegie’s The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking.  This is an “updated” version of his classic from mid-way the last century Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business.  In my view, the update strips much useful material from the book, and so I prefer the original.

You can find dozens of copies of the original classic for sale on ebay.  This, in my opinion, is the most useful public speaking book ever penned.

Best Business Presentation books
Best Presentation Book on Storytelling

If I were forced to choose one . . . this would be it.  And My Book?

My own The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting, does not appear on any list of best business presentation books, and I’m sure that’s just an oversight.

And so here I offer the most generous and self-aggrandizing interpretation possible . . . it just hasn’t circulated among the cognoscenti nearly enough to have created a buzz-worthy impact.

I know that you, as do I, eagerly await its appearance on next year’s “Best of” list.

Forward to 2015 . . . may you feel especially powerful and experience only good gestalt!