Are your presentations making your audience fall asleep? Do you read your slides? Do you have filler words? George’s Top Tips for presentations can fix that.
Our gracious host, George Leith, is back with another teaching episode! This week George tackles how to tweak your presentation skills to make them more effective, more concise, and to deliver them stronger. You, the listeners, will walk away with four new exercises to help you in making your presentation skills one to be reckon with.
George is thoroughly experienced, educational and inspirational sales and marketing keynote speaker who can enlighten your company or professional association on best practices for transforming sales and utilizing social media’s innovative concepts to align your digital media marketing with current trends and prepare it for the unpredictable times ahead. As a sales transformation keynote speaker, author and guest university lecturer, he has a unique ability to demystify concepts and inspire businesses and professionals to understand and truly embrace the potential that digital transformation has for many business objectives including sales, business development, and marketing for B2B, non-profit organizations, as well as government institutions.
George: It’s another edition of the “Conquer Local” podcast and we continue with the coaching editions and these editions have come from the various comments that have been left for us on our LinkedIn channels. Just go to George Leith on LinkedIn and reach out to it. I promise you I read every single comment, every single message. We appreciate all of the positive feedback that we’ve been getting. We also appreciate some of the feedback that’s been a little critical and I…listen. Give it to me. I can take it. I’ve got broad shoulders.
Today we are gonna talk about a guide to great presentations. I was actually asked to give this presentation at a recent leadership offsite inside our own company by our CEO and we’re gonna share the content from this guide to great presentations when we return on the “Conquer Local” podcast next.
All right. You’ve got an audience and they are giving you their time and it’s super valuable, and I think you need to respect that. And what I’m hoping today to give you is just a few tips on how to build a great presentation and how to deliver one 9 times out of 10. I think that that’s kinda the expectation that you should go into it is that 9 times out of 10 I’m gonna deliver an amazing presentation. The first thing is you need to know your audience. It’s an important piece of the puzzle. I like to do a lot of digging into the potential audience that could be either across the microphone from me, or across the stage from me, or in the boardroom or, you know, on the other side of the webinar that I’m doing. You know, who is the audience and what am I going to say that’s going to reach those people? What am I gonna say that’s gonna keep them off of their cellphone and the social media? What am I gonna do to make sure that they are engaged?
That’s an important first step—is understanding your audience. And then what I wanna do is build a structured framework. So, you know, a lot of people think that great presenters can just get up there and pull something out of you-know-where, and knock it out of the park every time. But if you speak to great presenters, and I know a number of them that are just world class they will…if…they’ll give you the tip and the tip is they practice like crazy and they build out a framework, and they work on that framework as much as they actually work on delivering the presentation. Because getting the framework right means that you’re then going to build a compelling story.
The other thing that I want to caution you on is, you know, PowerPoint overload. So, you know, PowerPoint is our friend and it should complement the message that the speaker is giving. I was very inspired recently. I was at the International Franchise Association Show in Las Vegas. Gary Vaynerchuk you know, love him, hate him. He’s a fantastic speaker. I’ll give him that. I had a chance to see him live on stage. Two hours straight presentation. Not one slide.
And he just stood up there and talked about the content, and it was fantastic. He told story, after story, after story. And I could see people nodding and I could see…you know, he kept the audience and the audience was from, you know, 18 years old to 80 years old and he kept them engaged and he didn’t pander to them. He actually challenged them at every stage. So I guess my point to this is, you don’t need slides to deliver a fantastic presentation. They should be there to complement it and you should use compelling images in those slides. The other thing that is frustrating as hell as a person that’s watching a presentation, is when the speaker reads the slides. Like I can read. I do not need you to read slides to me. What I’d rather you do if you’re gonna be a rookie, is just not say a word, stand there and look pretty, and I’ll read the slides because I actually read quite well.
Now I want you to learn the practice of repetition. So this comes a couple of ways. You’re gonna have to repeat your presentation over and over and over again to get the flow. But also as you deliver that message, because you know your audience, you’ve built a structured framework, you need to understand that repetition is how you’re gonna drive those clear takeaways into the minds and hearts of your audience.
So if you’ve got a message that you’re delivering and you wanna have that repetition and it is a practice. So you have a brief rundown of what you’re trying to accomplish off the start. Now I usually like to tell a story off the start so that the audience is like, “Oh, here’s why I should pay attention to this old dude standing on stage with me.”
But then get into the meat of the presentation and then deliver the conclusion which speaks to all of the great points you’ve delivered throughout that presentation. Now remember. Stories sell. You want to tell some compelling stories inside your presentation. When you tell something around a story that is relatable to the audience, ’cause you’ve done your homework on who the audience is and you’ve got the story. They’re just like, “Oh, yeah. I get that. That speaks right to me.” And then you deliver it with that repetition, the structured repetition, to drive home what you’re going to reach in your conclusion. You’re coming up with a presentation that is going to knock their socks off.
The other thing is you need to have confidence when you’re standing there delivering that presentation. Confidence is such an important piece. When I work with inside sales organizations, I mean, people who are on the telephone delivering sales messages I’m like, “Why are you sitting? Are you lazy? Stand up! Stand up! Open up your diaphragm and start delivering that message.” Because the minute that we stand our confidence level is higher. So you wanna have that confidence and you should have that confidence when you’re practicing. And then look in the mirror. Practice in front of the mirror. See how you’re standing. Figure out whether you’re actually straight. You know, are you projecting properly, are you facing the audience?
Umm… so Like, What Now?
Here’s George’s top tips for amazing presentations. Number one, beware of filler words. Now we do this. We have filler words. They’re the ones that we use when we’re thinking. And so some people’s filler words…here’s a great one. Like, like, like. Annoying, isn’t it after you say it about a 100 times? How about right? This one where every time you say something you wanna punctuate it. Right? Right? That gets to be quite annoying. Um is a filler word. So one of the things that you can do inside presentations is rather than have one word that you go to…first you gotta figure out what the word is. Producer Colleen always writes down my crutch word for me. What was the latest one that we beat? See, it’s gone. I don’t even have it anymore.
Colleen: Hit the nail on the head!
George: Yeah. That’s gone. Hit the nail on the head. We got rid of that. We killed it.
You need to have a bucket. You need to have a bucket of words or a list of words that you start using in repetition. The other thing is just stepping outside of yourself while you’re practicing the presentation and coming back to it and going, “Oh, there’s my filler word that I keep using.” So be careful of those.
I’ve said this before. Practice to the steering wheel. I find it on those commutes that’s one of the best places, because you can practice out loud and nobody thinks you’re going crazy because you might just be talking on the phone. You’re like on Siri talking. You can practice the steering wheel.
And then…so this happened to me about a year ago. It was karma. So one of the things that I’ve been doing when I’m teaching sales organizations to give great presentations is I’ll have them draft a presentation, and they have to send the slide deck to me that they’re gonna use. And then when they go up there to do the presentation they’re about three renditions in and I say, “Okay. The projector just broke. You don’t have a slide deck anymore. You have to give the presentation.” So lo and behold I’m at Microsoft headquarters in London, England a year…two years ago and you know what? The projector broke and I had to deliver the presentation without…anyways, good thing that I practice it that way. I was able to deliver the presentation in front of that group of folks even when the projector had broken and I had no visuals whatsoever. So I have added that now to all the training we do around great presentations. It’s a great exercise to see whether you really understand the information without looking at the slides.
And then my good friend, T-bone, is gonna love this one, ’cause it takes us back to our radio days with the program director sitting down with us in the office and we’re doing an air check. Edit, edit and re-edit. You idiot. Why did you just say that? Why did you ramble on? That’s how you felt by the way when you were doing the air check with the program director and they were like, “Oh, you just went on for 90 seconds about nothing and you said the same topic three times and there was nothing in there.” Anyways, edit, edit and re-edit.
The one thing you don’t wanna do in a presentation is say, “You know, I don’t know if I should say this.” That right there should be an indication that you shouldn’t say it. So if you’re standing on stage going, “I don’t know if I should say this.” And then you say something. You shouldn’t have said it.
Here’s a thing that I found online that I thought was fantastic. Ten slides, 20 minutes, 30 font, meaning you can only have 10 images. You’ve gotta use at least a 30 text font on those images so that your audience can see what you’re trying to present in the text. So what we’re trying to get away from is 200 slides with a 5 font where you can’t even read the stuff that’s on it anyways. Oh, by the way, as the speaker you’re now gonna read every word that’s on the slide. We’re trying to get away from that. We’re trying to use PowerPoint for what it’s for, and that is to enhance the presentation, not be the root of the presentation. Here are my exercises for delivering great presentations.
It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4…
Exercise number one. This will improve your presentation skills in a hell of a hurry. Thirty seconds filler free. Go to your phone. First figure out what your filler words are. So if you don’t have a producer Colleen, go back and listen to your presentations. Record them and listen to them. Figure out what the filler words are. And then start the timer on your phone. Have someone adjudicate you and see if you can make it through 30 seconds without using those filler words. Because the easiest way to get rid of filler words is to realize that you actually even bloody well use them.
Exercise number two. One minute off-the-cuff. So working with a colleague, have them give you a topic and you’ve gotta deliver a minute off-the-cuff with some information about blue dumplings. Let’s see what you could do with one minute off-the-cuff about blue dumplings. It will help you to think on the spot and it’ll help you to craft those stories.
Exercise number three. Make up the definition to a word or to a phrase like, blue dumplings. Make up a definition for blue dumplings. Those are three exercises…oh, I actually have four. A fourth exercise.
Exercise number four. Where did that name come from? And this is part of becoming a better storyteller. We’re gonna give you a name and you’re gonna have to think up where it came from, like blue dumplings. So where did blue dumplings come from? Well, blue dumplings came from a country that was called Blueville and everyone there had a problem. At some point in their history they all ended up losing their breath and turning blue and they never returned to their state. So instead of having white dumplings they decided to create their own blue dumplings because then it matched their race that they had developed, because of this issue that they faced based upon the fact that they couldn’t breathe. And that’s where blue dumplings came from.
And that’s how you deliver better presentations with just four exercises and some great tips. I hope that those are a benefit to you and that blue dumplings is a new hashtag that we can get trending on Twitter. Thank you very much Mister T-bone. And I actually finally made producer Colleen laugh. Look at that. It is a “Conquer Local” podcast, the Coaching Editions #bluedumplings. We’ll see you next time. My name’s George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.