Speaking in public can make or break your career. Why? Because it won’t matter how good your idea, product or service is if you can’t get buy-in from your audience. If you don’t know how to hook an audience not only do you lose, so does everyone who might have benefitted from your great idea, unique product or new service. Don’t let that happen!
In addition, presenting to groups can do wonders for your career because people respect individuals who can confidently and succinctly present ideas in such a way that the audience says, “I get it!” With this in mind, I want to share two books that radically changed how I present.
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
Carmine Gallo wrote this book a decade ago and it’s just as relevant as we start 2020 as it was in 2010. As I read the book I took seven pages of typed notes! I reinforced what I was learning with “to do” notes to myself. Below are a few of my biggest take away ideas.
“Throughout this book, ask yourself, “What am I really selling?” Remember, your widget doesn’t inspire. Show me how your widget improves my life, and you’ve won me over.”
My Note: Professional success and personal happiness.
“HEADLINE What is the one big idea you want to leave with your audience? It should be short (140 characters or less), memorable, and written in the subject-verb-object sequence.”
My Note: Wouldn’t you agree; much of your professional success and personal happiness depends on getting others to say “Yes” to you?
“Create your headline, a one-sentence vision statement for your company, product, or service. The most effective headlines are concise (140 characters maximum), are specific, and offer a personal benefit.” My Note: Helping You Hear “Yes!”
“Simple slides keep the focus where it belongs—on you, the speaker.” My Note: Exactly
Do you like what you’ve seen so far? If so, get yourself a copy of the book today.
Garr Reynolds published this book in 2012. As I read this book I kept going back to my power point slides to rework them. I moved away from the traditional word and bullet point filled slides with cheesy animation and pictures. I’m a little embarrassed to show you some before and after slides but I think by doing so you’ll clearly see the difference this book made for me. On the left are slides from a 2010 presentation and on the right is what I currently do with the same slide. Night and day difference!
Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash
Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash
What I came to realize is this: your slides support your talk. Because people think in pictures, incorporating high resolution pictures to drive home your points makes a huge, huge difference. In case you’re interested, three picture sources I’ve used over the years are Unsplash, Maxpixels, iStock. The first two are free but don’t discount iStock just because you have to pay. It’s worth it when you find the perfect picture for your presentation.
Is it scary to move away from text filled slides? A little because you can’t refer to your slides for your talking points. But, there’s also a freedom that comes with this change. First, if you miss a point nobody knows because it’s not like they can say, “Hey, he never addressed the second bullet point.”
Another freedom you’ll experience is not being tied to specific talking points. What that means is you can change your talk on the fly depending on things like audience feedback or time restrictions. For example, if a group is responding more to my personal stories I will start incorporating more by way of examples throughout the presentation. If my time was unexpectedly cut short I don’t need to say, “I’ll have to cut out some things out due to time.” Instead I might tell an audience, “Even though we have a little less time don’t worry, we’re going to cover everything you were looking forward to.” Then I adjust on the fly.
Let me emphasize that everything I’ve just shared is predicated on two very important things; 1) you know your material by heart and 2) you practice, practice, practice. These two things combined with your slide changes and advice from Steve Jobs will make you look like a pro next time you’re in front of an audience!
To Do This Week
Pick up copies of Presentation Zen and The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. For a tiny monetary investment, you’ll get HUGE returns once you start making the types of changes I did. Imagine going into your next big presentation and blowing people away because you’re so much better than everyone else. It might make the difference in landing that big sale, getting a new job or earning a promotion.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.
Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on incorporating persuasion into sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 85,000 people around the world!