Category Archives: Resources

An Interesting Presentation?

Give an interesting presentation every time
Give an interesting presentation by broadening your context

How can you enrich your presenting in unexpected and wonderful ways so to give an interesting presentation regardless of your audience?

To deepen and broaden your perspective so that it encompasses that proverbial “big picture” we forever hear about?

Become a 3-D presenter.

Now, this means several things.  It includes how you utilize the stage to your utmost advantage, and a major component is the exercising of your mind.

And I talk about that here.

Three-D Presentations

Think of it as enlarging your world.  You increase your reservoir of usable material.

And you connect more readily with varied audiences.

You accomplish this in a pleasant and ongoing process – by forever keeping your mind open to possibilities outside your functional area.

By taking your education far beyond undergraduate or graduate school.

And that process increases your personal competitive advantage steadily and incrementally.

By doing something daily, however brief, that stretches your mind or enables you to make a connection that otherwise might have escaped you.

By reading broadly in areas outside your specialty, and by rekindling those interests that excited and animated you early in life.

Read a book outside your specialty.

Have lunch with a colleague from a different discipline.

Time to Dabble . . . Just a Bit

give an interesting presentation
How to give an interesting presentation? Expand your Context.

Dabble a bit in architecture, engineering, art, poetry, history, science.

We sometimes cloister ourselves in our discipline, our job, our tight little world.  We forget that other fields offer insights.

For myself, while teaching in the LeBow College of Business‘s management department this semester, I sometimes sit in on a course sponsored by another college’s history Department “Grand Strategy.”

What a leavening experience: Thucydides, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Lincoln, and many others . . .

How does this help in preparing my own classes?  In surprising ways.  Linkages appear, and the dots begin to connect themselves.

That’s the beauty and potential of it.

I do know that it will enrich my store of knowledge so that my own presentations continue  in 3-dimensional fashion, connected to the “real world” – textured, deeper, and richer than they otherwise would have been.

It will do the same for yours, and it can aid in your developing into an especially powerful presenter, imbued with professional presence.

For more on how to give interesting business presentations, click HERE.

I Recommend this Presentations Book

A bit of prelude . . .

Presentations Book
The Best Advanced Presentations Book in the World

I teach at a university business school in Philadelphia and have been coaching student presentations for years.

My own book The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting addresses the needs of this particular niche audience.

I own perhaps the largest vintage public speaking book collection in the United States, outside the library of congress – more than 2,000 volumes, going back to 1762.  I buy presentation books even now, to see if there is, indeed, anything new under the sun.

Most often, I am disappointed.

Until now . . .

Again, I say all of this by way of prelude, because I am not given to exaggeration at all.

Presentation Skills 201

What I say next, I utter with the sincerity born of many years laboring in the vineyards of bad presentations – Mr. Steele’s Presentation Skills 201 is, page for page, the finest book on advanced presenting I have ever read.

Surely the most succinct.

It froths with superb and utterly essential advice on every . . . single . . . page.

Distilled into powerful instructional nodes, Mr. Steele’s book is spot-on again and again.  I thought that I had seen and heard it all, given that I view and judge 300 individual and 75 group presentations each year – but not so.

Mr. Steele’s work is a reminder that there is always “one more thing” that each of us can learn to hone and improve our own presentation skills.

Examples?

On rushing through your presentation:

One of the keys to sounding confident as a presenter is acting like you own the time.  If you were told you have 15 minutes to speak, you want to act like you own those 15 minutes.  Rushing makes you sound anxious to the audience.  It undermines the confident image you want to project.  You risk coming across like a nervous stage performer who expects the hook at any moment.  Limiting your content takes the pressure off.

On making slides:

Presenters routinely assign the lowest priority to their live audience when preparing slides.  They create slides to be their notes.  Slides that are speaker notes can be anemic or crammed with too much content.  Some presenters just need reminder notes, so they create slides with cryptic phrases that mean nothing to the audience.  Others need the slide show equivalent of a script, so their bullet points are complete paragraphs in 10-point type.  Either way, the slides are frustrating to an audience.

On handouts:

If you need a handout, realize that a good slide show is not a good handout – and a good handout is not a good slide show.

Money is Precious

I rarely recommend books in the presentation genre.  This is one of those rare times.

I have found wisdom on every page of Mr. Steele’s tome and it holds an honored place at my right hand.  I plan to reference it often as well as consult Mr. Steele’s website.

I recommend this presentations book to anyone who fancies himself or herself an outstanding presenter.  You can do better, and Presentation Skills 201 is the perfect tonic to take anyone to a higher level of performance.

For specific guidance at the Business School level, consult my own Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Fool’s Gold versus Presentation Wealth

Especially Powerful Presentation WealthHow can you distinguish between Presentation Fool’s Gold . . . and genuine Presentation Wealth?

Can you tell presentation right from presentation wrong?

Good from bad?

Do you know what is a matter of opinion and what, if anything, is carved in stone?

You have lots of questions about business presentations that never get answers except in the vaguest of terms.  Stuff like this . . .

“Make eye-contact!”

“Move around when you talk!”

“Don’t put your hand in your pocket!”

“Practice in a mirror!”

I call this presentation Fool’s Gold.  And it doesn’t do much good.  In fact, it can sabotage your presentation.

So let’s fix that right now.

especially powerful presentation wealth
Time to sort out the Presentation Wealth from the Fool’s Gold

Let’s dip into the treasure chest for some presentation wealth.

The real thing.

Here’s a brief compendium of questions with links to answers you can find right here on this site.

It’s not all you must know . . .

. . . but it’s a great start.

Presentation Wealth!

Have a look . . .

Isn’t that better?  Much better, in fact.

Business School Presentations – this site – opens a entirely new world to you and your presentation endeavors.  Here, we demystify the business presentation, clear away the fog of indecision.

In the process, you can become not just a good presenter, but a great presenter.  An especially powerful presenter who can declaim to audiences of 4 to 4,000 . . . with power, confidence, and competence.

Stay with us . . . come back often . . . check out the many speaking resources I link to in the left-hand menu . . . embrace the cornucopia of Presentation Wealth.

. . . launch your quest to obtain personal competitive advantage to last a lifetime.

And when you’re ready, dive into the Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

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.

Business Case Competitions Worldwide!

The Business Case Competition builds skills and tests your mettleI often judge presentations in business case competitions, and I never fail to be impressed at the high caliber of students competing.

Versed in the intricacies of wealth-building and savvy in the ways of Wall Street, the next generation of business leaders is well-armed for the competitive battles of tomorrow.

And case competitions are the way to display those skills.

Case Competitions Worldwide

In my last post, I described the crucible of case competitions and how they can lead to increased opportunities in the business world.

If it interests you (and it always interests the best), then review this site that was recently passed to me.  Appropriately enough, it’s called www.studentcompetitions.com, and its motto says:  Compete. Show Your Skills. Get Awarded.

The site features a constantly updated database of student  competitions worldwide.  As of this writing, 334 contests and competitions are listed.

So if you are serious about bringing to bear all of your business acumen in a public demonstration of your abilities to collaborate across a range of sub-disciplines in business, then go now to http://studentcompetitions.com and see what awaits you.

No Time for Modesty or Mediocrity

The Case Competition is your chance to demonstrate a wide range of corporate business skills in a collaborative effort.  You receive recognition, valuable experience, sometimes monetary reward, and perhaps an open door to corporate employment.  The competition is a showcase for your skills.

You can also win anywhere from $1,000 to $75,000 in a single business case competition.

Click for more information on how to deliver Especially Powerful Business School Presentations and learn the key secret techniques of how to win the business case competition.

Great Business Presentation Sites

awful presentationYou have arrived at the most important website on the internet . . .

. . . on delivering the great business presentation in business school.

In fact, it’s the only site in the world in English devoted exclusively to business school presenting . . . and that’s out of almost 1 billion sites.

One billion?

Great Business Presentation Websites

The internet should reach the 1 billion website milestone by the end of 2014.  And while no other site focuses on the challenges of business school presenting, plenty of other sites offer superb advice on this or that aspect of delivering a great business presentation.

I’ve compiled a great many of the best presentation sites, and links to them appear on the right of this site’s home page.

So go up-top to the menu, click “home,” and then look for great links to great sites . . . on the right, in its own column.

Go ahead . . . take a look.

Click and enjoy . . .

Cosmopolitan MBA Business Presenting – India

It’s my privilege to not only travel a great many miles to special places, but also to work with some of the brightest young people of the latest generation who constitute the finest business leaders of tomorrow.

And the new cadres of great MBA business presenting.

MBA business presenting
Powerful MBA business presenting is the key to competitive advantage

Take India, for instance.

Today, I fly to Mumbai for two weeks of working with MBA students at the Welingkar Institute of Management.

India is a potential economic powerhouse, whose engine of domestic and international commerce is only just starting.

With incredible knowledge resource capability and government that finally recognizes the power of individual initiative and the economic benefits that accrue from relaxing regulation, India is set for an economic renaissance that will stagger the world when its gears finally engage.

MBA students at Welingkar, many of whom appear on this page, show a drive, determination, optimism, and coachability that should be the envy of the world.  My lecturing has also taken me to Lonavala, to the iFEEL institute, where equally motivated young people pursue their graduate degrees.

Powerful MBA Business Presenting

Inquisitive and cosmopolitan to a startling degree, these young people are poised to enter middle-management as a sage class of entrepreneurial knowledge workers.

They are steeped in the latest management techniques.

Lonavala, home of iFEEL Institute
Lonavala, home of iFEEL Institute

They are armed with the techniques of especially powerful MBA business presenting that confer unmatched competitive advantage.

I’d go so far as to say that they constitute a new cadre of global executives, a new breed of 21st Century Managers.  Unencumbered with notions held over from the industrial revolution.

And, of course, they see the power inherent in superb MBA business presenting.

They constitute a cadre imbued with the qualities of:

        • Technical Proficiency
        • Flexibility and Adaptability
        • Cosmopolitan Outlook
        • Cultural Competence
        • Team-work orientation
        • Personal and Professional Aligned Strategic Focus

The rest of the business world should take note.

India is an economic giant that no longer sleeps.

For more on MBA business presenting and the great big world, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

MBA business presenting is the key to competitive advantagePowerful MBA business presenting is the key to competitive advantage

MBA business presenting is key

An Interesting Business Presentation Every Time!

Give an interesting business presentation every time
Enlarge your world to give an interesting business presentation every time

How can you enrich your presenting in unexpected and wonderful ways so to give an interesting business  presentation regardless of your audience?

To deepen and broaden your perspective so that it encompasses that proverbial “big picture” we forever hear about?

You must become a 3-D presenter.

Now, this means several things, including how you utilize the stage to your utmost advantage, but a major component is the exercising of your mind.

And I talk about that here.

Three D Presentations

It’s the process of enriching your personal context so that you become aware of new and varied sources of information, ideas, concepts, theories.

Yes, it’s a process of becoming learned in new and wondrous ways.

Think of it as enlarging your world.  You increase your reservoir of material.

And you’re able to connect more readily with varied audiences and deliver an especially interesting business presentation.

You accomplish this in a pleasant and ongoing process – by forever keeping your mind open to possibilities outside your functional area.  By taking your education far beyond undergraduate or graduate school.

And that process increases your personal competitive advantage steadily and incrementally.

Expand Your World to Give an Especially Interesting Business Presentation

By doing something daily, however brief, that stretches your mind or allows you to make a connection that otherwise might have escaped you.

By reading broadly in areas outside your specialty.

By rekindling those interests that excited and animated you early in life.

Read a book outside your specialty.

Have lunch with a colleague from a different discipline.

give an interesting business presentation
Delve outside your specialty to develop an especially interesting business presentation

Dabble a bit in architecture, engineering, art, poetry, history, science, culture.

We sometimes cloister ourselves in our discipline, our job, our tight little world, forgetting that other fields can offer insights.

For myself, while teaching in at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, I also sit in on other courses such as one sponsored by nearby Temple University:  the History Department’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy – “Grand Strategy.”

What a leavening experience: Thucydides, MachiavelliClausewitz, Lincoln, and many others . . .

How does this help in preparing my own classes?  Thoughts, linkages, ideas, concepts, cross-disciplinary leavening.

That’s the beauty and potential of it.

It enriches my store of knowledge so that my own presentations continue in 3-dimensional fashion.  They are connected to the “real world” – textured, deep, and richer than they otherwise would have been.

It will do the same to help you develop your own interesting business presentations, and it will likely aid in your developing into an especially powerful presenter, imbued with professional presence.

For more on how to give interesting business presentations, click HERE.

The Best Presentation Books for 2013!

One of the Best Presentation books of 2013
Best Presentation Books

It occurred to me to compile a list of the best presentation books to recommend to readers of this blog.

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

“Best of” lists are always popular.

To recommend 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 List of Best 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 offer you a list of the 35 best presentation books compiled and judged by giants in the field . . . (and I offer my own view of what I consider to be the top three on the list).  Yes, you can learn something about business presenting from a book.  Quite a bit, actually.

The trick is to find the right book.

My Top Three Best 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 change the way your deliver your presentations in ways that, at first, may discomfort you.  But they are changes that you must accept to become an especially powerful business presenter.

Best Presentation Books for 2013
Best Presentations 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 Presentation books
Best Presentation Book on Storytelling

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

My own just-published book, The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting, does not appear on this superb list of 35 books.  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.

Until then, enjoy the creme-de-la-creme of the best presentation books as exemplified on the 2012 list!

 

If you could have only one business presentations guide . . .

This is one Business Presentations GuideIf you could have only one business presentations guide to help you with your presentations, what would it be?   [Aside from my own]

You have many from which to choose.  Too many, in fact.

Hundreds of them.

So this question is part rhetorical and part genuine inquiry to discover what motivates, trains, and aids students and young executives in their development into capable presenters.  No, not just into capable presenters . . . especially powerful presenters.

I have my own answer to this question, of course, and I’ll share it with you in a moment.  It’s based on reviewing a skein of presentation and public speaking books published over the course of 2,500 years.  All of ’em?  Close to it.

It’s an esoteric subject with a tightly circumscribed group of recognized and established authors and scholars.  The mid- to late 1800s was the golden age for modern oratory and presenting, when Philadelphia was host to the National School of Elocution and Oratory.  Departments of public speaking flourished in universities across the land.

Today’s Tedious Tofu

Today, we have “communications” courses that offer tofu and tedious texts.  They offer impractical and vague suggestions that are often impossible to put into practice.

Today we have The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs supplanting the rich and powerful books of speaking masters who offer the soundest and most-proven presentation instruction in all of recorded history.  This is not to so harshly criticize The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs as to imply that is isn’t useful at all.

The author, Carmine Gallo, is a delightfully engaging public speaker himself.

Gallo pens a superb column for BusinessWeek.  And sure, this book has a pocketful of useful “tips.”

Business Presentations GuideBut the book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, is more about Steve Jobs than it is about you.  It’s more about Steve Jobs than about presentation secrets that you can actually use.

Let’s put it this way:  Steve Jobs’s #1 presentation “secret” was to speak only at Apple product launch extravaganzas populated with early adopter evangelicals and to ensure that he was unveiling the next generation high-technology gadget hyped in the world press for the previous 12 months.

In such a scenario, don’t you believe that you and I could paint our faces blue and dress like Jack Sparrow and deliver a successful and quite powerful presentation?

Of course we could, and that was Steve Jobs’s actual “secret.”

Jobs was an above-average speaker with a distinctive style.  His public appearances were highly orchestrated.  His competition in America’s C-Suite was, and remains, abysmal.

In short, Jobs was a celebrity CEO armed with a built-in audience poised to cheer his every word.

That’s surely a “secret,” but it’s not very helpful to the average presenter.

So, will you learn anything from Mr. Gallo’s book?  Sure, but it has nothing to do with Jobs or what he does.

Mr. Gallo laces enough fundamental advice throughout the book to help a neophyte improve his presenting in several aspects.  But the question I asked at the beginning is this:

If you could have only one book to help you with your business presentations, what would it be?

Not that one.

In fact, I could recommend a dozen books that are utterly superb, none of which published after 1950, that far outstrip today’s pedestrian offerings.  Books that offer a wealth of powerful and mysterious techniques to transform you into the most dynamic speaker you possibly can be.

Books to stretch you to your utmost limits, books that propel you to fulfill your fullest presentation potential.

Single books that are worth any 10 “business communication” texts costing more than $1,000 in toto.

But if I had to choose one . . . and only one business presentations guide . . .

It would be this book . . . a book first published in 1913.

This Business Presentations Guide

Subsequent to its original publication, this incredible tome went into more than 58 editions and was constantly in print until 1962.  In that year, it was revised and given a different title, and it went into another 28 editions, the last one I can find published in 1992.  Its title was again revised and a new edition published in 2006.

This book remains in print today.  Many reprint editions are available and are quite inexpensive.  Like diamonds upon the ground that no one recognizes.

And of all the more than 500 presentation books I own, dating from 1762 to the present day (and reprints back to 430 BC), this is the one book I commend to you.  You can search it on Amazon.com and purchase an inexpensive copy today.

The one book I recommend is . . .

Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business, by Dale Carnegie.The Business Presentations Guide for all time

Post-1962, the book is called The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Public Speaking, an edition revised by Carnegie’s wife [I dislike the new title, because it gives the mistaken impression that great public speaking can be “quick and easy,” an addition to the original book added much later, but I’ll not cavil on that point here].

The newest edition is called:  Public Speaking for Success.

Of course, Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business doesn’t mention the PowerPoint software package, for obvious reasons.

Instead, this powerful business presentations guide focuses on the most important elements of any presentation, whether delivered by Pericles to the Athenians in 430 BC or by you to your Global Business Policies course in 2012 – you . . . your message . . . your audience.

Buy this book . . .

Read this book. . .

Learn from this book . . .

. . . and then enjoy the fruits.

And if you have room in your library for another business presentations guide, you can always add this superb volume, The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Coca-Cola CEO Gives a Bad Business Presentation

Bad Business Presentation
Bad Business Presentations Infest Corporate America

Lets look at one of the pathologies of the bad business presentation – the poor stance of the speaker.

A wholly unsatisfactory stance infests the business landscape, and you’ve seen it dozens of times.

You see it in the average corporate meeting

You see it in the after-dinner talk, finance brief, or networking breakfast address.

While unrelenting positivity is probably the best approach to presentation improvement, it helps at times to see examples of what not to do.  This is especially true when the examples involve folks of lofty stature who probably ought to know better.

The Emperor’s Bad Business Presentation

If they dont know better, this is likely a result of the familiar syndrome of those closest to the boss not having the guts to tell the boss he needs improvement.

The speaker stands behind a lectern.

The speaker grips the lectern on either side.

The speaker either reads from notes or reads verbatim from crowded busy slides projected behind him.

The lectern serves as a crutch.  The average speaker, whether student or corporate VP, appears afraid that someone might snatch the lectern away.

Many business examples illustrate this, and youve probably witnessed lots of them yourself.

Let’s take, for instance, Mr. Muhtar Kent, the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Coca-Cola.

Video rated PG-13:  violence done to speaking skills

Mr. Kent appears to be a genuinely engaging person on occasions where he is not speaking to a group.  But when he addresses a crowd of any size, something seizes Mr. Kent.  He reverts to delivering drone-like talks that commit virtually every public speaking sin.

He delivers excruciatingly bad business presentations.

He leans on the lectern.

He hunches.

He squints and reads his speech from notes in front of him.  When he does diverge from his speech, he rambles aimlessly.

In the video below, Mr. Kent delivers an October 2010 address at Yale University.  He begins badly with a discursive apology, grips the lectern as if it might run away, does not even mention the topic of his talk until the 4-minute mark, and hunches uncomfortably for the entire 38-minute speech. Have a look . . .

 

Successful C-Suite businessmen and businesswomen, such as Mr. Kent, are caught in a dilemma – many of them are terrible presenters, but no one tells them so.

No one tells them, because there’s no upside in doing it.  If you worked for Mr. Kent, would you tell him so?  Of course not.

Moreover, many business leaders believe their own press clippings.  They invest their egos into whatever they do.

It becomes impossible for them to see and think clearly about themselves.  They tend to believe that their success in managing a conglomerate, in steering the corporate elephant of multinational business to profitability, means that their skills and judgment are infallible across a range of unrelated issues and tasks.

Such as business presenting.

And this is why you see so many bad business presentations by so many smart and powerful people.

Mr. Kent is by all accounts a shrewd corporate leader and for his expertise received in 2010 almost $25 million in total compensation as Coca-Cola CEO and Board Chairman.  But he is a poor speaker.  He delivers a bad business presentation, but . . .

But he has great potential that will probably never be realized.

And this is tragic, because many business leaders like Mr. Kent could become outstanding speakers and even especially powerful advocates of their businesses.

The Bad Business Presentation Curse

As it stands now, executives such as Mr. Kent exert an incredibly insidious influence in our schools and in the corporate world generally.

Let’s call it the “hem-of-garment” effect.

Those of us who aspire to scale the corporate heights imitate what we believe to be winning behaviors.  We want to touch the hem of the garment, so-to-speak, of those whom we wish to emulate.

Because our heroes are so successful, their “style” of speaking is mimicked by thousands of young people who believe that, well, this must be how it’s done:  “He is successful, therefore I should deliver my own presentations this way.”

Especially Powerful Business Presentations
“Yes, we can turn him into a capable Business Presenter.”

You see examples of this at your own B-School, as in when a VP from a local insurance company shows up unprepared, and reads from barely relevant slides.

He then takes your questions in chaotic and perhaps haughty form.

Who could blame you if you believe that this is how it should be done?  The bad business presentation is, after all, the unfortunate standard.

But this abysmal level of corporate business presenting offers you an opportunity . . .

You need only become an above-average speaker to be considered an especially powerful presenter.

A presenter far more powerful than Mr. Muhtar Kent or any of 500 other CEOs.

It is completely within your power to do so.

For more on avoiding the bad business presentation, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Just one Business Presentation book . . .

Not this Business Presentation Book
This isn’t a bad Business Presentation Book, but . . .

If you could have only one business presentation book to help you with your presentations, what would it be?

You have many from which to choose.  Too many, in fact.

Hundreds of them.

So this question is part rhetorical and part genuine inquiry to discover what motivates, trains, and aids students and young executives in their development into capable presenters. No, not just capable presenters . . . especially powerful presenters.

I have my own answer to this question, of course, and I’ll share it with you in a moment.  It’s based on reviewing a skein of presentation and public speaking books published over the course of 2,500 years.  All of ’em?  Close to it.

It’s an esoteric subject with a tightly circumscribed group of recognized and established authors and scholars.  The mid- to late 1800s was the golden age for modern oratory and presenting.  This was when Philadelphia was host to the National School of Elocution and Oratory, and departments of public speaking flourished in universities across the land.

Business Presentation Books

Today, we have “communications” courses that offer tofu and tedious texts.  They offer impractical and vague suggestions that are often impossible to put into practice.

Today we have The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs supplanting the rich and powerful books of speaking masters who offer the soundest and most-proven presentation instruction in all of recorded history.  This is not to harshly criticize The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.  I don’t imply that it isn’t useful at all.  The author, Carmine Gallo, is a delightfully engaging and powerful public speaker himself.  He pens a superb column for BusinessWeek.

And sure, this book has a pocketful of useful tips.

Business Presentation BookBut the book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, is more about Steve Jobs than about you.  It’s more about Steve Jobs than about presentation secrets that you can actually use.

Let’s put it this way:  Steve Jobs’s #1 presentation “secret” is to speak only at Apple product launch extravaganzas populated with early adopter evangelicals and to ensure that he is unveiling the next generation high-technology gadget that has been hyped in the world press for the previous 12 months.  In such a scenario, you and I could paint our faces blue and dress like Jack Sparrow and deliver a successful and quite powerful presentation?

Of course we could.  That is Steve Jobs’s actual “secret.”

Jobs is an above-average speaker with a distinctive style.  His public appearances are highly orchestrated, and his speaking competition in America’s C-Suite is abysmal.

In short, Jobs is a celebrity CEO armed with a built-in audience poised to cheer his every word.  That’s surely a “secret,” but it’s not helpful to the average presenter.

So, will you learn anything from Mr. Gallo’s book?  Sure, but it has nothing to do with Jobs or what he does.

Mr. Gallo laces enough fundamental advice throughout the book to help a neophyte improve his presenting in several aspects.  But the question I asked at the beginning is this:

If you could have only one book to help you with your business presentations, what would it be?

Not that one.

In fact, I could recommend a dozen books that are utterly superb, none of which published after 1950, that far outstrip today’s pedestrian offerings.  Business presentation books that offer a wealth of powerful and mysterious techniques to transform you into the most dynamic speaker you possibly can be.  Business presentation books to stretch you to your utmost limits, books that propel you to fulfill your fullest presentation potential.

Single books that are worth any 10 “business communication” texts costing more than $1,000.

But if I had to choose one . . . and only one . . .

It would be this book . . . a book first published in 1913.

This Business Presentation Book

Subsequent to its original publication, this incredible tome went into more than 58 editions and was constantly in print until 1962.  In that year, it was revised and given a different title, and it went into another 28 editions, the last one I can find published in 1992.  Its title was again revised and a new edition published in 2006.

It remains in print today.  Many reprint editions are available and are quite inexpensive.  Like diamonds upon the ground that no one recognizes.

And of all the more than 1,000 business presentation books I own, dating from 1762 to the present day (and reprints back to 430 BC), this is the one book I commend to you.  You can search it on Amazon.com and purchase an inexpensive copy today.

The one book I recommend is . . .

Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business, by Dale Carnegie.

Post-1962, the book is called The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Public Speaking, an edition revised by Carnegie’s wife [I dislike the new title, because it gives the mistaken impression that great public speaking can be “quick and easy,” an addition to the original book added much later, but I’ll not cavil on that point here].

The newest edition is called:  Public Speaking for Success.

The One Business Presentation Book that Beats them All
The One Business Presentation Book that Beats them All

Of course, Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business doesn’t mention the PowerPoint software package, for obvious reasons.  Instead, it focuses on the most important elements of any business presentation, whether delivered by Pericles to the Athenians in 430 BC or by you to your Global Business Policies course in 2011.  It focuses on you . . . your message . . . your audience.

Buy this book . . .

Read this book. . .

Learn from this book . . .

. . . and enjoy the fruits.

More on Business Presentation Books in The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

I Hate Presentations

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

You don’t hate presentations?

You feel reasonably confident, competent, and thoroughly satisfied with your presenting skills?  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 with your business school and its treatment of presentations, which is why you’re reading this blog.

One in 255 Million?

Of an estimated 255 million websites worldwide, 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.

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 certainly not “communication theory.”  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.

  • What is this beast – the business presentation?
  • How do I stand? Where do I stand?
  • What do I say? How do I say it?
  • How do I reduce 20 pages of analysis into a four-minute spiel that makes sense and that “gets it all in?”
  • How should we assemble a group presentation? How do we orchestrate it?
  • Where do I begin, and how?
  • How do I end my talk?
  • What should I do with my hands?
  • How do I conquer nervousness once and for all?
  • How can I tell “what the professor wants?”
  • How do I translate complicated material, such as a spreadsheet, to a PowerPoint slide so that it communicates instead of bores?

 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 . . .

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.

I hate presentations!
The confidence and surety of President Reagan made him a powerful presenter

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