Archives for July 2017

[Video] Dishing on Presentations with Peter Arvai, Prezi’s Co-founder and CEO

In this month’s “Dishing on Presentations”, PXpert editor, Sharyn Fitzpatrick chatted with Prezi’s co-founder and CEO, Peter Arvai while he was on vacation in Sweden, visiting the farm he grew up on. It is timely that we spoke with Peter because Prezi has been in the news quite a bit over the last few weeks. We talked about how Prezi Next was created with feedback from their 85M users, the thoughtful acquisition of Infogram and how it fits into their product roadmap, the presentation industry and the role of cognitive thinking, and the Harvard study results. We hope that this is the first of many conversations we have with Peter. His passion and deep thinking about the medium comes through – he is an engaging speaker. To learn more about Prezi, go to


What Wins When Giving Presentations: The Slides or the Speaker?

Earlier this year, Pulse Design Studio was chosen as 1 of 12 design companies to ‘pitch’ to a group of local decision makers responsible for hiring talent for their creative business needs. The event was held at dPOP! at the Chrysler House in Detroit, sponsored by several well-known organizations including Pure Michigan Business Connect, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Michigan Film and Digital Media Office, and the Detroit Crain Content Studio.

Each company presenting was given a total of 3:00 minutes to pitch, utilizing no more than 10 PowerPoint slides. For a presentation company like ourselves, this was the chance to put our talents to the test.

What I found interesting about the event, was the buzz amongst the audience after all the presentations were given. The universal question people were pondering was when it comes to giving a presentation, what’s more effective? Is it the slides or is it the speaker?

This honestly wasn’t the first time I had heard this dilemma. It’s a common question I get asked all the time no matter what size presentation or event I’m helping a client prepare for. It’s like tug of war, in which one side seems determined to win, but no one actually does.

My answer boils down to this- it’s neither the slides or the speaker. It’s the story. This is the primary and universal foundation that will engage and resonate with your audience far beyond anything else. But what exactly does that mean?

During our presentation, we included a slide to speak to this universal truth:

Understanding your story, and how to connect that with your audience is becoming an invaluable element for any presentation these days. Why? Here are three key reasons driving this truth:

  1. Time. Our time is getting increasingly limited (as in our 3:00-minute example) to engage with one another. Having an hour or more to pitch a product or an idea is going to be a thing of the past.
  2. Competition. The number of businesses on the landscape compared to 10 years ago has grown and will continue to grow. Digital online marketplaces and growing technologies will add more and more pressure on companies to stand out, and compete with one another.
  3. Decision Makers. Engaging with key decision makers is no longer about being together in the boardroom. Connecting with your audience across time zones and the increase of file sharing will continue to impact how engaging and stand-alone your presentation should be.

Following the event, an article got published by Daniel Duggan, a Crain’s Detroit Business editor who said, “…I asked a few people, informally, afterward about what pitches they liked best. The ones that rose to the top were those who were talking more about the big picture and making the pitch more about telling a story.”

So, next time you find yourself in the position to craft a presentation, start with what your ‘story’ is, rather than what the copy or graphics should be. You’ll find yourself delivering a much more effective presentation to your audience, and most importantly one that they’ll tend to remember the most.

About Tany Nagy:

With over 18 years of design experience and a Masters in Architecture, Tany Nagy transformed using her design skills from blueprints to presentations when she founded Pulse Design Studio in 2008. Her love for presenting stories as state-of-the-art communication materials launched Pulse into becoming a quickly recognized and sought after presentation design agency on a national and global scale. As creative director at Pulse, she has created hundreds of award-winning and dynamic presentations, from keynotes to pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading healthcare organizations and funded start-ups. Her passion

With over 18 years of design experience and a Masters in Architecture, Tany Nagy transformed using her design skills from blueprints to presentations when she founded Pulse Design Studio in 2008. Her love for presenting stories as state-of-the-art communication materials launched Pulse into becoming a quickly recognized and sought after presentation design agency on a national and global scale. As creative director at Pulse, she has created hundreds of award-winning and dynamic presentations, from keynotes to pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading healthcare organizations and funded start-ups. Her passion for pushing the boundaries on developing latest techniques and solutions drive her creativity to bring the very best in the industry to her clients. As an educator, she has been a featured speaker at several events in the Detroit area focusing on the evolution of presentations in today’s marketplace and digital landscape. You can reach her directly at her email: or by visiting her website.

Picturing Your Audience in Their Underwear—That’s a Stupid Strategy

After my podcast show on overcoming the fear of public speaking, I was curious how many people still think that it is a good idea to picture their audience in their underwear.

So I asked a question to find out if people already knew that there are better ways to overcome their number one fear. Man, I was dead wrong. I got comments about picturing the audience members as watermelons, pandas, and, of course, in their underwear. You’ve got to be kidding me! Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of cool underwear. I got dozens of them, but I don’t think this is something you want to have a mental picture of when speaking in front of an audience.

Here’s the deal. What if you, like many speakers (including me), feel more nervous and embarrassed to picture the audience half-naked? Is there a more effective solution? Oh yes! The reason most people fail to overcome their fear of public speaking is that they are not willing to do the quick and dirty work. Because of this, many of us struggle for the rest of their lives.

The Illusion of Picturing Your Audience in Their Underwear

There is a difference between picturing and fantasizing. If you imagine your audience taking all their clothes off and remaining only in their underwear smiling at you, that is not picturing; that is fantasizing. Don’t do it in front of your audience. That’s not the kind of picturing that gets over your public speaking anxiety.

A Better Way to Picture Your Audience

Picture that you are talking to your friends in the living room; you share interesting life stories and see your friends enjoying every moment of your speaking. They applaud and say, “You’re amazing!” How do you feel? I don’t feel nervous. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel confident. I feel relaxed. I feel comfortable.

Next time when you feel nervous about speaking in front of an audience, picture your audience as your friends:

  1. You are sharing a life-changing message with them.
  2. Your focus on helping the audience improve their lives.
  3. You are having a conversation with them. With this transformational mindset, you will overcome the fear of public speaking and build your confidence quickly.

Now, it’s time to paint a new mental picture. This time, get your audience fully dressed. Picture your audience as your friends, and watch yourself speaking with confidence.


About Jonathan Li

Public Speaking Coach and Author, Jonathan Li helps online entrepreneurs overcome the fear of public speaking. He is the host of The Expressive Leader, a weekly podcast that interviews successful entrepreneurs including Chris Brogan and Nancy Duarte. He believes every online entrepreneur can overcome the fear of public speaking. In his book, The Expressive Leader, he discusses how to deliver your message effectively, confidently, and have the impact you want on the audience. Want to see Jonathan in action – then watch his speech as a TEDx speaker.

You can receive effective and powerful public speaking training from Jonathan at


Harnessing the Power to be a Memorable Public Speaker

How many of us remember the great speeches or presentations? I know I have a few favorites. It is not just the content I remember but the power of the presentation and how it was delivered that makes it memorable or not.

Recently, I overheard a man referring to a speech he’d heard a few weeks earlier. “I can’t remember anything of the actual speech – but I can recall the story.” It’s a remark that only reinforces what I have known for years: apart from a personal experience – nothing sticks in our minds more than a story. There is something almost tangible when a series of visuals images arise in our minds at the prompting of an oral storyteller. Imaginary visual images stay with us long after facts and figures and even appeals to our emotions have faded into oblivion.

For example, in the 1980s I presented a particular story to a ladies group. Twenty years later I was on the telephone to this same woman – whom I had long ago forgotten – who was once again seeking a speaker, this time for a Probus Club she belonged to. She didn’t remember my name either. But after a few minutes on the phone, it became clear to this lady, now quite elderly, that she had heard me speak before. “Oh, you’re the man who told us that story about the seals and things on Macquarie Island. I remember that story.” “I remember that story.” And so we do.

In another example which goes back even further in time, in the 1990’s I was asked to present a Christmas Story to a Toastmaster Club. I thought, “Well, I don’t think I know any….wait a minute!” And it came flooding back to me after half a century. “The Fourth King.” It was a great Christmas story, and I’d only heard it once before. It was told to me when I was a little boy in Primary School in London, England around 1946. Fifty years had gone by and I still remembered it! That is the power of story!

For the public speaker who truly wants his or her presentation to be remembered, put in at least one really interesting and reasonably lengthy story; something that can be visualized in the mind of your audience and, chances are, your story too will be remembered long, long afterward. What better recommendation can a speaker get?

What is it that creates our individual styles as speakers? Why do we develop as we do? It seems that some of us are naturally gifted whilst others find it tough to become really competent and effective. It’s more than an innate confidence. Some of those who come into Toastmasters brimming with confidence – and there aren’t many of them – improve only marginally over the years, whilst others, almost painfully inhibited and shy, rise to become speakers well above the average.

Is it formal education that does it? Is it natural intelligence? Is it something indefinable but sensed by the speaker in himself or herself? Or maybe it’s the encouragement or discouragement received in their earlier or first few Toastmaster club encounters. As asked earlier – why do we develop the way we do?

What are the seeming intangibles that make one speaker present in an interesting, riveting way whilst another finds it hard to keep an audience’s attention? Is it the words spoken? Is it the body language and eye contact? Is it a combination of the two? Or are these more noticeable attributes of a speaker portraying a ‘something’ which comes deeper down in one person than that of another? Is it a matter of ‘heart’ rather than mind, soul rather than intellect?

Some speakers have a propensity for presenting the right words in the right order. Some find that alliteration and the combining of ideas into the ‘magic, one, two, three’ falls naturally to them. Others can’t do this without rehearsal and, even then, it comes across as false, not their genuine selves doing the speaking.

Could it be the books, the novels, poetry, essays consumed and filed away into the minds of the speaker over long years of reading? Certainly, we pick up words and phrases and ways of presenting this way. Some speakers have a good speaking vocabulary, others not. I suspect it comes from the volume and type of reading – and possibly writing – done down the years.

Still, others have a veritable dictionary of long-sounding and exact word usage that should ‘hit the spot’ but fails to do so because, to the listener in the audience, it’s almost as if the speaker were deliberately parading their language for our admiration. It comes across as too perfect. Very educated people who have studied in certain areas of the Arts, but have little Life experience, can come across this way.

As a long time speaker who has heard hundreds speak, it becomes clear to me that the best speakers have read widely, do feel passionate about their subject, have a wide background from which they can unselfconsciously extract words and terminology without sounding that what they’re saying is contrived, and who are able to place pictures in the minds of their listeners.

This reminds me of something that Syd Field, the Dion of script writing for movies, in his book, Screen Play – The Foundations of Screen Writing. He was a Hollywood legend and his book is a masterpiece on how to write a good film script. In the introduction of this book, Syd writes, “A screenplay, I soon realized, is a story told in pictures.” Oral storytelling is also like that, except that the pictures are not shown on a screen in a cinema. They’re seen on the screens of the audience’s mind.

Action seen on the ‘silver screen’ is largely a passive occurrence. The audience views the pictures and listens to the dialogue and sometimes, to a lesser extent, the narration of a voice describing what is happening. In oral storytelling, the audience takes a more active part, their minds evoke the pictures they see, albeit clearly or not so clearly, by the words put to them by the storyteller.

There is quite a bit of similarity between a storyteller and a public speaker presenting a speech. In both, the story or speech is the thing; the presenter is simply how the story or message is imparted. The good presenter of either of these genres should, if they’re doing their job right, be hardly noticed. They disappear, so to speak, and the minds of the audience are moved by what is being conveyed. The body language and eye contact of the storyteller or speaker, the pitch, pace, pause, the vocal variety and nuances of meaning are noticed but noticed by a part of the recipient as non-intrusive. If the storyteller or public speaker is doing it right there will be little or no conscious evaluation of how it is being presented. The audience will be lost in the content of what is being portrayed.

Public speaking is both a craft and an art. The craft is the content: the knowledge, the memories on which one can draw: the art is the unconscious presenting of the words in the right sequence, the delivery, including voice variation, pitch, pace, pause, eye contact and body language. The craft is garnered through our life experiences, the art through our continuing practice. So if we are to become the best speakers we can be in this lifetime we need to look at both the art and the craft. It needs to be a lifetime work. It is something we should never ever give up.

So, if you wish to be the best speaker you can be, look these aspects of speaking and keep on keeping on. You never know…you could end up being one of the top speakers in the entire world. Be memorable for the right reasons with the right content and the right delivery.

Get outside and speak! Work out what is required by way of the speeches that are acceptable to outside audiences. Mostly, they like to be entertained. This includes not only subject matter but the length of time. Five to seven minute or even twelve to fourteen-minute speeches are, as a general rule, not long enough for your outside audience. So work on a thirty, forty or even fifty-minute presentation. Then find your audiences – deliberately put in plural because you’ll present that presentation more than once – and get out there and speak!

In likelihood you will succeed and, as it has been said many times, ‘Nothing succeeds like success.’ Before you know it you’ll be speaking to many different types of audiences, putting together new presentations, growing and enjoying a newfound confidence in speaking. So why not do it? Nothing is holding you back. Go for it!

Arthur Thomas (Tom) Ware DTM
He is an international public speaker a Distguinished Toastmaster. The Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award represents the highest level of educational achievement in Toastmasters. Based in Australia, Tom shares his expertise and knowledge with others in his field including how to be a better public speaker.

[Webinar Recording] Marvelous Makeovers: Presentations Edition with Rick Altman

Fan Favorite, Marvelous Makeovers: Presentations Edition is back!

Watch Rick Altman transform ugly slides provided by our subscribers into marvelous makeovers. Did you know that makeover seminars are the most popular of all at the Presentation Summit, the annual conference for the industry, but what exactly is a makeover? Is it just the prettying up of a bad slide? In fact, there are many forms of makeovers, and they are all on display during recorded webinar. Watch it now to find out what magic Rick will pull out of his hat to make “Marvelous” slides.

If you’re a golfer, your favorite word is “mulligan.” That’s when you hit a dreadful shot, usually into a forest or a lake, and you drop the second ball at your feet and essentially proclaim, “that one didn’t count.” You then hit again and go on your merry way, a happier camper for it.

In PowerPoint parlance, our mulligan is the makeover – that fantastic and fantastical opportunity to press Pause and create an alternate reality. That horrible slide with eight long-winded bullets and a postage-stamp photo? No, you didn’t really mean to do that; that doesn’t count. Take a mulligan! Here’s a do-over.

Makeover seminars are the most popular of all at the Presentation Summit, the annual conference for the industry, but what exactly is a makeover? Is it just the prettying up of a bad slide? In fact, there are many forms of makeovers, and they are all on display in this hour:

Message: Well-intended content creators often lose sight of the story they mean to tell.

Structure: If the foundation of your presentation is flawed (like trying to create slides that serve as visuals and as handouts), you will be swimming upstream the whole time.

Slide design: The classic case of “who created this sludge and how can we fix it?”

PowerPoint technique: Most users of the software are undertrained and rarely go below the surface of PowerPoint’s feature set. That can have a profound effect on how they build their slides.

Delivery: A well-designed presentation both relies on and encourages presenters to be at the top of their games.

You can download the handout here.
About our speaker:

Rick Altman has been hired by hundreds of companies, listened to by tens of thousands of professionals, and read by millions of people, all of whom seek better results with their presentation content and delivery. He covers the whole of the industry, from message crafting, through presentation design, slide creation, software technique, and delivery. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the preeminent learning event for the community, attended by an international audience of 200 since 2003.He would have traded it all in for a career on the professional tennis tour. He wasn’t good enough, though — all of this was his Plan B…

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