Category Archives: Topic

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 never get an interesting topic”

Interesting topic?
“I never get an interesting topic”

“I never get an interesting topic.”

Perhaps you’ve said that?

I’ve certainly heard it.

In fact, I hear this lament more often than I would prefer.  It embodies much of what is wrong with individual and group presentations.

There is no such thing as an inherently uninteresting topic.   Nor is there an inherently interesting topic.

Interest is something that you generate, combining your unique gifts and training to create something special that appeals to the audience.  Whether your audience is the CEO, a potential client, the Rotary Club, or your fellow students.

That’s your job.  In fact, that’s what you’ll be paid to do upon graduation.

Interesting Topic?  That’s Your Job

Cases are not assigned to you in B-School to interest you.  No one cares if they interest you.

That’s not the point.

Whether you find your topic personally interesting or not is irrelevant.  It’s your duty to craft a talk that interests the audience, perhaps even captivates the audience.

Persuades the audience.

And gives to you an especially powerful http://www.ihatepresentations.com/crafting-your-personal-competitive-advantage/.

We all would love to be spoon-fed “interesting topics,” wouldn’t we?  But what’s an “interesting” business presentation topic?

I’ve found the following to be true:

The students who complain about never getting an interesting topic actually do get assigned those topics – topics that are rich with potential and ripe for exploitation.  Some folks don’t recognize them as “interesting” because their store of information and context either is absent or is untapped.

So they invariably butcher a potentially interesting topic and miss every cue and opportunity to craft a great presentation.

It’s time to recognize that you simply want an interesting topic for yourself . . . not so you can do a bang-up job for the audience.

The Nail – A Powerful Presentation Topic

business presentation interesting topic
You make the business presentation topic about nails interesting . . . it’s your responsibility, in fact

The upshot is that if you don’t take presenting seriously, then you won’t do anything different for an “interesting” business presentation topic than you would for a “boring” topic.

The creative challenge is greater, in fact, for presenting on the topic of tenpenny nails than it is for, say, the Apple iPhone.  The initial perception might be that the iPhone is more inherently “interesting.”

It’s hip.  And familiar.

Students gravitate to the topic like bees to flowers.

But give me a student who gladly takes a business case that involves tenpenny nails and who weaves a compelling, imaginative, and professional presentation, and I’ll show you a future business star.

The best students recognize the drama and conflict and possibilities in every case.  They craft an interesting presentation regardless of the topic.

How do you generate interest?  How do you mine a case for what is dramatic, different, uplifting, unusual?  Public speaking master James Winans provides several suggestions from almost 100 years ago:

[I]nterest is, generally speaking, strongest in old things in new settings, looked at from new angles, given new forms and developed with new facts and ideas, with new light on familiar characters, new explanations of familiar phenomena, or new applications of old truths.

It actually requires thought and a broadening of context.

It requires the extension of horizon, and the expansion of the personal frame of reference.

In short, the learning of new stuff, which is always more difficult than relying upon what we already know – the tried and the true and the comfortable.

The Beast:  The Interesting Topic

And as an aside, what would you do with the topic of tenpenny nails if you were assigned the task of demonstrating to the general public, say, their value to the building industry?

Are these the three-inch nails that take their name from the original price-per-100?  I always thought so.

But an alternative explanation says the name has nothing to do with price.

Instead, it has to do with . . . .  Well, when you deliver a presentation on nails, you’ll find the answer.   The name, by the way, dates from the 15th Century, the same century as the invention of the Gutenberg printing method.

Now that’s a “killer app” with staying power.

Sound like an interesting topic?

For more ways to develop your acumen with regard to your business presentation topic, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Give an Interesting Business Presentation

Give an interesting business presentation every time
Give an interesting business presentation by broadening your context to generate a 3D effect of richer texture and deeper meaning

Our goal:  give an interesting business presentation.

That seems easy enough, but too often we simply assume that this somehow “just happens.”

And I wager that not many folks spend lots of time on the task.

Let’s look at how you can enrich your presenting in unexpected ways so to give an interesting presentation regardless of your audience.

Let’s discuss how to deepen and broaden your perspective so that it encompasses that proverbial “big picture.”

Let’s start with how to become a 3-D presenter.

3D Presentations

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

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

It’s a process of becoming learned in new and wondrous ways. Think of it as enlarging your world.

You increase your reservoir of usable material.

As a result, you can connect more readily with varied audiences.

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

The Interesting Business Presentation

That process increases your personal competitive advantage steadily and incrementally.

By doing something daily, however brief.  Something to stretch your mind to establish connections 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
How to give an interesting business 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, forgetting that other fields can offer especially powerful insights.

For me, it means sitting in on classes taught by my colleagues.  It means reading outside my specialty area.  It means exposure to doctrines I don’t rightly believe, but probably ought to understand.

How will this help in preparing my own classes?  At this point, I can’t be certain.  But I know it will.  At some point.

Without fail.

And 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.  They’ll be connected to the “real world” – textured, deep, and richer than they otherwise would have been.

It will do the same for yours.  And it will likely aid in your development into an especially powerful presenter, imbued with professional presence.

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

Business Lessons from the Great Battles

Business Lessons from the Great BattlesIt’s always exciting to reprise a successful lecture, and Friday in Philadelphia I did just that with a six-hour seminar for business executives on Business Lessons from the Great Battles of History.

Three months in the crafting, the Great Battles seminar had its germination in the suggestion by one of my colleagues.

He had engaged me to deliver my earlier lecture series on Competitive Intelligence, which used historical military examples and multimedia, and thought that a full-blown seminar focused on the nexus between business strategy and military strategy might be well-received.

It was received well.  It called for an encore

What follows is the gist of this powerful offering . . .

War, Conflict . . . and Business Lessons

In business, we have adopted the language of war and of conflict.

We talk of market penetration . . .  we counterattack a competitor . . . we out-flank our opponents.

We get ambushed in office meetings . . . we form alliances and we battle against alliances . . . we conduct “hasty retreats” when facing a superior foe . . . we “make peace” with our enemies.

And we craft our strategy for our next campaign.

Perhaps it’s only natural that we Business Lessons from the Civil Warshould speak this way.  Ours is a world of conflict and cooperation.

And sometimes the cooperation seems only a prelude to conflict.

But rather than simply adopt the machismo of war-words, we can go beyond the surface similarities.

We can study and learn something about planning and executing business strategy from the actual techniques of martial combat.  Here, we look at some of the tactical techniques utilized by the military and codified in military manuals worldwide.

Some of techniques of maneuver and attack are familiar to most people.  Others, not so well-known.

The best strategic maneuver, of course, is one that Sun Tzu recommended more than 2,000 years ago.  Sun Tzu urged us to consider techniques that would yield bloodless victories.

He said:  “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

Most of us are not blessed with the kind of acumen or situation that affords us the luxury to win without battle.  And so we must make do with techniques that can yield victory, if applied judiciously and the proper place and time.

Business Lessons:  Circumspection a Must

But we must be circumspect and shrewd.

We must observe certain principles, and the hallmark of a sound principle is its successful application, across time, to situations in which the terms and technology may change, but the principle still holds.

Principles serve as a north star to guide us, to keep us going in the right direction.

In conflict situations, The Principles of War offer us guiding ideas for executing any straBritish Business Lessons from their Stupendous Loss?tegy against a determined opponent – Objective, Offensive, Economy of Force, Maneuver, Unity of Command, Mass, Security, Surprise, and Simplicity.

The point is to think strategically . . . to exert a measure of control over a chaotic world, a sometimes hostile world.

All smart and successful organizations make use of war principles but call them something else.  We call them efficiency tools and such like.

But let’s call them what they are.

Let’s do call them “Principles of Competition” . . . because they can be utilized by anyone involved in any conflict, great or small . . . they can be used at the organizational level . . . and they can be used at the personal level.

Many countries and many theorists have devised principles of war over the centuries.  This noble and venerable lineage stretches back to the time of Sun Tzu, Thucydides, Vegetius, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Jomini, Foch, and many other notables.  But regardless of the time and place and personality, the principles have always retained a sameness . . .

Principles may change at the periphery, but they maintain a steadfast core character.

Business Lessons:  Principles of Competition

For this seminar on Business Lessons, we appropriate for ourselves a set of Principles of War distilled by British Colonel John Frederick Charles Fuller during World War One and into the mid-1920s and adopted almost immediately in a slightly differKursk offers a Business Lesson against the Frontal Attackent form, by the United States military.

These are principles that had been handed down less formally for centuries.

The lessons learned on the battlefield can help us in the boardroom and they can help us compete effectively against a determined and equally capable competitor.

Here, we examine business lessons from the great battles of history – General Pagondas at Delium in 424 BC, Hannibal at Cannae in 216 BC, Lee at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg in 1863.  We look to Zulu Chief Cetshwayo at Isandlwana in 1879, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg of France in 1940, the Battle of Kursk in 1943, Israel’s Raid on Entebbe in 1976, and the First Gulf War, among others.

Was Friday’s seminar delivered with elan and panache?  With brio?

Was it an especially powerful presentation?

One hopes, and we’ll see.

The jury is still out on this one and we await the verdict.

For more in-depth discussion of Business Lessons from the military realm, consult Strategic Thinking Skills.  For more on delivering business lessons in the most powerful way, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

The Proper Role of Business – a Powerful Presentation Topic

Powerful Presentation Topics
Especially Powerful Presentation Topics are All Around Us

Especially powerful presentation topics often go against the grain of today’s headlines and truisms.

They make us think, make us uncomfortable, and they challenge conventional wisdom.

Often they remind us that arguments have two sides . . . and the other side, while sometimes uncongenial to us, can be logical, cogent, and powerful.

How do we handle such topics when we present them?

With relish and gusto . . . with élan and brio.

What follows is a powerful rallying cry to business, penned by marketing legend Theodore Leavitt.

An especially powerful presentation topic it is.

The Proper Role of Business – Powerful Presentation Topic

Business will have a much better chance of surviving if there is no nonsense about its goals – that is, if long-run profit maximization is the one dominant objective in practice as well as in theory.

Business should recognize what government’s functions are and let it go at that, stopping only to fight government where government directly intrudes itself into business.  It should let government take care of the general welfare so that business can take care of the more material aspects of welfare.

The results of any such single-minded devotion to profit should be invigorating.  With none of the corrosive distractions and costly bureaucracies that now serve the pious cause of welfare, politics, society, and putting up a pleasant front, with none of these draining its vitality, management can shoot for the economic moon.

Refreshingly Aggressive

It can thrust ahead in whatever way seems consistent with its money-making goals.

If laws and threats stand in its way, it should test and fight them, relenting only if the courts have ruled against it, and then probing again to test the limits of the rules.

Powerful Presentation TopicAnd when business fights, it should fight with uncompromising relish and self-assertiveness, instead of using all the rhetorical dodges and pious embellishments that are now so often its stock in trade.

Practicing self-restraint behind the cloak of the insipid dictum that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has only limited justification.  Certainly it often pays not to squeeze the last dollar out of a market especially when good will is a factor in the long-term outlook.

But too often self-restraint masquerades for capitulation.

Businessmen complain about legislative and other attacks on aggressive profit seeking but then lamely go forth to slay the dragon with speeches that simply concede business’s function to be service.  The critic quickly pounces on this admission with unconcealed relish – “Then why don’t you serve?”

But the fact is, no matter how much business “serves,” it will never be enough for its critics.

Boldness is Needed

If the all-out competitive prescription sounds austere or harsh, that is only because we persist in judging things in terms of Utopian standards.  Altruism, self-denial, charity, and similar values are vital in certain walks of our life – areas which, because of that fact, are more important to the long-run future than business.

But for the most part those virtues are alien to competitive economics.

financial times provides powerful presentation topicsIf it sounds callous to hold such a view, and suicidal to publicize it, that is only because business has done nothing to prepare the community to agree with it.  There is only one way to do that: to perform at top ability and to speak vigorously for (not in defense of) what business does . . . .

No Knuckling Under to Criticism

In the end business has only two responsibilities – to obey the elementary canons of every­day face-to-face civility (honesty, good faith, and so on) and to seek material gain.  The fact that it is the butt of demagogical critics is no reason for management to lose its nerve – to buckle under to reformers – lest more severe restrictions emerge to throttle business completely.

Few people will man the barricades against capitalism if it is a good provider, minds its own business, and supports government in the things which are properly government’s.  Even today, most American critics want only to curb capitalism, not to destroy it.  And curbing efforts will not destroy it if there is free and open discussion about its singular function.

To the extent that there is conflict, can it not be a good thing?  Every book, every piece of history, even every religion testifies to the fact that conflict is and always has been the subject, origin, and life-blood of society.  Struggle helps to keep us alive, to give élan to life.

We should try to make the most of it, not avoid it.

Lord Acton has said of the past that people sacrificed freedom by grasping at impossible justice.  The contemporary school of business morality seems intent on adding its own caveat to that unhappy consequence.  The gospel of tranquility is a soporific.

Instead of fighting for its survival by means of a series of strategic retreats masquerading as industrial statesmanship, business must fight as if it were at war.

And, like a good war, it should be fought gallantly, daringly, and, above all, not morally.

Harvard Business Review, 1959

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

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.

Business Presentation Topics for Power and Impact

business presentation topic
You get paid big bucks to infuse your business presentation topic with interest

“I never get an interesting business presentation topic.”

Perhaps you’ve said that?

I’ve certainly heard it.

I hear this lament more often than I would prefer, and it embodies much of what is wrong with individual and group presentations.

There is no such thing as an inherently uninteresting topic.   Nor is there an inherently interesting topic.

Interest is something that you generate, combining your unique gifts and training to create something special that appeals to the audience.  Whether your audience is the CEO, a potential client, the Rotary Club, or your fellow students.

That’s your job.  In fact, that’s what you’ll be paid to do upon graduation.

Interesting?  That’s Your Job

Cases are not assigned to you in B-School to interest you.  No one cares if they interest you.

That’s not the point.

Whether you find your topic personally interesting or not is irrelevant.  It’s your duty to craft a talk that interests the audience, perhaps even captivates the audience.

Persuades the audience.

We all would love to be spoon-fed “interesting” topics, wouldn’t we?  But what’s an “interesting” business presentation topic?

I’ve found the following to be true:

The students who complain about never getting an interesting topic actually do get assigned those topics – topics that are rich with potential and ripe for exploitation.

Students don’t recognize them as “interesting” because their store of information and context either is absent or is untapped.

So they invariably butcher a potentially interesting topic and miss every cue and opportunity to craft a great presentation.

It’s time to recognize that you simply want an interesting topic for yourself . . . not so you can do a bang-up job for the audience.

The Tenpenny Nail?

business presentation topic
You make the business presentation topic about nails interesting . . . it’s your responsibility, in fact

The upshot is that if you don’t take presenting seriously, you won’t do anything different for an “interesting” business presentation topic than you would for a “boring” topic.

The creative challenge is greater, in fact, for presenting on the topic of tenpenny nails than it is for, say, the Apple iPhone.  The initial perception might be that the iPhone is more inherently “interesting.”

It’s hip.  And familiar.

Students gravitate to the topic like bees to flowers.

But give me a student who gladly takes a business case that involves tenpenny nails and who weaves a compelling, imaginative, and professional presentation, and I’ll show you a future business star.

The best students recognize the drama and conflict and possibilities in every case.  They craft an interesting presentation regardless of the topic.

How do you generate interest?  How do you mine a case for what is dramatic, different, uplifting, unusual?  Public speaking master James Winans provides several suggestions from almost 100 years ago:

[I]nterest is, generally speaking, strongest in old things in new settings, looked at from new angles, given new forms and developed with new facts and ideas, with new light on familiar characters, new explanations of familiar phenomena, or new applications of old truths.

It actually requires thought and a broadening of context.

It requires the extension of horizon, and the expansion of the personal frame of reference.

In short, the learning of new stuff, which is always more difficult than relying upon what we already know – the tried and the true and the comfortable.

The Business Presentation Topic Beast

And as an aside, what would you do with the topic of tenpenny nails if you were assigned the task of demonstrating to the general public, say, their value to the building industry?

Are these the three-inch nails that take their name from the original price-per-100?  I always thought so.

But an alternative explanation says the name has nothing to do with price.  Instead, it has to do with . . . .  Well, when you deliver a presentation on nails, you’ll find the answer.

The name, by the way, dates from the 15th Century, the same century as the invention of the Gutenberg printing method.

Now that’s a “killer app” with staying power.

Sound like an “interesting” business presentation topic?

For more ways to develop your acumen with regard to your business presentation topic, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.