One of my personal pet peeves is bad presentation skill. Considering the technology industry is so focused on information and knowledge, it’s amazing how bad we are at communicating it. I see this almost on a daily basis in Sales. It’s either an over loaded presentation on technology from marketing, a badly organized presentation from Sales people, or — worst of all — a presentation that is just a printed record of what the presenter said. Blah!
So I was giddy with excitement (honestly, just ask my wife…she was there) when I came across a wonderful book by Garr Reynolds called presentation zen. I have relying on this book lately as I develop a couple of presentations, specifically funding presentations where it is most important to be able to tell a story about what your working on and why it’s the most important thing since sliced bread (at least to your potential customers). That is one of the key points that presentation zen makes: your presentation should be telling a story, and it shouldn’t be a novel…think more picture story book. (for a great example, see Larry Lessig’s TED presentation on How creativity is being strangled by the law.)
The best part of presentation zen is that it can be used as a quick reference guide as your working on a presentation. It helps to reinforce the lessons you know. Such as start planning your presentation without your computer. You need to know your story line and flow, and having the computer in front of you when you do this only distracts you into things that don’t matter (like large bullet lists). I forgot this lesson when I started working on my latest presentation and the book, along with some peers with whom I reviewed an early draft, reminded me of my errors.
If you do presentations, do your audience (and yourself) a favor and buy a copy of this book!
I would also check out a Guy Kawasaki’s The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, he brings up a great set of points on creating a presentation as well as a wonderful template to start with if your building a funding presentation (and he happens to have written the forward to presentation zen). A huge thanks goes out to Val for pointing me to this posting!
Since I’m on the topic of funding, if you interested in the world venture capital, I recently came across an interesting opinion piece on the Software VC Outlook for 2008.
Terry Gault says
As a presentation coach, I cannot stress enough the importance of the story in presentations! Has anyone ever noticed that the many of the most charismatic people all share something in common? If you think of the most likable person in your group of friends, or the most charismatic politician you can think of, or your most memorable teacher, odds are that the thing they have in common is the ability to tell a good story.
The power of the story cannot be overrated; simply put we are social beings and a well-crafted story helps the listeners to intimately relate with the storyteller. This is why the best authors – even if they are scoundrels or are centuries old- still have universal power.
Use the story!!!
Stories help you get into the “zone” of presenting. You are intimately familiar with the material and it’s easy to be more animated with an energetic, expressive voice and gestures when telling a story. Practice telling the story to friends and family members in informal settings. Continue to refine it to its most compact, crystallized form by selecting the pertinent details and then letting those details vividly delivered with expressive non-verbal behavior do the work.
Weave your background and resume into a story. You will get to tout your experience while also gaining attention and building rapport. Use personal stories to make points. These are the elements that can make a story effective.
• Common reference points
• Recognizable archetypes (Cheerleader, Office Gossip, The Grouch, Office Clown, Geek, Petty Gatekeeper, etc.)
• Dialog between characters
• A good segue back to your topic
Details not objectives
Carefully selected, vivid details are always more powerful than vague, general adjectives.
Thanks for your post!