A Compilation of Favorite Presentation Quotes

Call us geeks if you like, but we like presentations. We flip through presentations on SlideShare, even when they’re about things we don’t understand. We read books on public speaking, just for fun. We seek out quotes on presenting daily, in the off chance that one will be relevant and inspiring to one of our clients.

Speaking of which, we thought we’d share what we consider to be some of the more poignant and timeless quotes out there on public speaking:

“There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” – Dale Carnegie

Preparation is always the difference. Here’s to no regrets, and doing what you set out to do!

“Mere words are cheap and plenty enough, but ideas that rouse and set multitudes thinking come as gold from the mines.” – A. Owen

One of the biggest obstacles to delivering a great presentation is too much humility, or small thinking. It doesn’t matter what you’re speaking about: if you or someone else has asked for the opportunity to discuss the topic, it matters enough to be treated as an idea of profound importance. Passion always shines through.

“Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.– Sir Winston Churchill

We think he meant that brevity counts, and that the more what you say reflects common or ancient principles, the more easily you can persuade your audience.

“It takes one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation time.”  – Wayne Burgraff

We thought about this, and think it’s true. Great presentations are a labor of love.

“There are certain things in which mediocrity is not to be endured, such as poetry, music, painting, and public speaking.” – Jean de la Bruyere

Public speaking is an art, and like all arts, we seek extraordinary experiences when we see it.

Presenting is a craft as old as time, and great men and women have long observed some of the irrefutable laws of public persuasion. The next time you’re putting a deck together, take a moment to read some words of wisdom. These principles have stood the test of time, and they apply even to today’s modern business environment.

About the Author:

Scott Schwertly is the CEO and founder of Ethos 3, a leading presentation design and training company. From big names like Guy Kawasaki to big companies like Google, Pepsico, and NBC Universal, Ethos 3 has been responsible for bringing the message home. For more information, visit www.ethos3.com.

5 Tips for Making Presentation Language Come Alive

By Scott Schwertly

It’s pretty likely that C.S. Lewis brought you a little bit of happiness when you were a child. As author of the Chronicles of Naria series, C.S. Lewis created one of the most beloved children series of all time. As a result, he got loads of fan mail from his biggest fans: children. And being the nice purveyor of childhood glee that he was, he managed to respond to many of the letters, including one from Joan Lancaster, in which he included several tips on writing.

Let’s see what we can learn about presentations from his poignant advice.

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

This is great advice for the presenter as our job is disseminate information as clearly and simply as possible. In order to do so, use language that tells the audience what they need to know in the simplest way possible. Say what you want to say as simply as possible. Don’t overcomplicate your language for no reason.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t “implement” promises, but “keep” them.

This goes hand in hand with Lewis’s previous nugget of advice. Use plain, direct language in your presentation. You won’t sound smarter by using a ten-dollar word when a five-dollar word will do. Rather, you might come across as pretentious. Don’t alienate your audience with obscure language. Be as direct as possible.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

Mr. Lewis is adamant about the importance of clear, direct language, isn’t he? Minimize abstraction as much as possible with the language you use. Be as clear and concrete as possible.

4.  Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. Instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified.

Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please, will you do my job for me?”

This may be the best bit of Lewis’s advice, as it’s basically a snarky version of ‘show, don’t tell.’ Engage your audience by using vivid language that describes a situation instead of simply telling the audience how it made you feel using a range of blasé adjectives.

Remember presentation skill coach Jerry Weissman’s advice: Don’t make the audience think. Describe situations so clearly and in such a compelling nature that the audience won’t have any question as to what happened or how it made you feel.

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Lewis’s last piece of advice again addresses the need to use clear, precise language. Don’t exaggerate in your description of something as that would be an easy way to mislead your audience.

Above all, if we are to follow Lewis’s advice in our presentations, use language that is as direct and to-the-point as possible. Your presentation will be much more accessible and well-received if you eliminate abstract, unclear language altogether.

About the Author:

Scott Schwertly is the CEO and founder of Ethos 3, a leading presentation design and training company. From big names like Guy Kawasaki to big companies like Google, Pepsico, and NBC Universal, Ethos 3 has been responsible for bringing the message home. For more information about Ethos 3, visit http://www.ethos3.com/

Move from Expert to Master in Your Presentations

By Sandra Zimmer

Last week I was coaching a new client who is an amazing expert on wireless technology at a Fortune 100 company and I heard myself say, “Maybe it is time to move from being an expert to being a master.”

What’s the difference? The difference is in how one asserts their information. It seems to me that an expert asserts his expertise fully, readily and frequently to all who will listen. A master is someone who reveals what he knows as needed in the moment. A master says the one right thing that a listener needs to know because the master can perceive what the listener needs for his next step. The master is tuned in to the listener.

Everyone will know who the expert is, because the expert will make sure everyone knows. But many people will not know who the master is, because the master will hold back anything that the listener is not ready to hear. The expert will draw lots of attention, the master will likely not.

Once you have become an expert at something, there is a natural evolution into mastery. Mastery happens when you stop asserting your expertise as something to get attention and begin to offer your skills in service to humanity. You essentially transcend your skills and become a humble servant, giving your expertise to help others gain the same level of ability.

You might think of Mr. Miagi in the movie The Karate Kid. Or the Dali Lama who when asked who he was said simply, “It’s just me.”

Once an expert stops trying to impress, he steps into the level of mastery. Making complex things simple is the realm of the presentations master. He simply is the master and what he does is simple.

My own mastery is guiding people to express themselves authentically in front of groups. My approach is simple. I help people relax into being who they are in front of other people and give them simple steps for putting ideas together to craft compelling messages. My students say they have trouble telling their friends and family what we do in class, because it is so simple. I simply make it safe for people to be authentic.

When people feel free to be who they are, they are naturally eloquent and what they say inspires listeners.

About the Author:

Sandra Zimmer has been guiding groups and individuals since 1976 at the Self-Expression Center and in business settings, teaching public speaking, voice training, communication skill training, acting classes and much more. She founded the center to help people develop confidence to express themselves more freely. For more information on her services, visit www.self-expression.com

Presentation Trends to Excite and Unite

By Kevin Lerner

The presentation of presentations has evolved radically and rapidly. Ten years ago, overhead transparencies and 35mm slides were the trendy tools. More recently, projectors and computer-based presentations have taken center-stage.

But the most exciting presentation products are on the horizon, as increased bandwidth, more powerful and compact technologies, and a more technically-savvy consumer merge to pave a path for clearer communications.

Here are some emerging trends, technologies, and techniques in the presentation industry sure to affect your presenting life:

Virtually Speaking

Budgets for company conferences and regional meetings are being slashed universally, as budget-conscious managers turn to the Webinar as a fast and economical method for presenting information. Even the terms webinar and webcast has become interchangeable with presentation: “I need to give a webinar.”

Thanks to faster graphics cards, more powerful processors, and greater bandwidth capable of displaying a PowerPoint presentation plus a live video of a speaker and high quality audio, webinars are taking center stage.

“People are becoming more comfortable with webinars and recorded presentations,” explains Ken Molay, an online communications strategist based in North Carolina. He says while everyone agrees that the numbers of webinars and recorded presentations are increasing, it’s difficult to get an actual estimate on statistics and true numbers

Indeed, several larger companies have pulled the plug on their face-to-face regional meetings. One marketing executive at ADT/Tyco in Boca Raton speculates the security giant saved $1 million by conducting a recent regional meeting online.

But delivering an effective webcast is a whole lot more than just a few bullet points and a pleasant template. Presenters are going to great lengths these days to create web-based presentations that captivate and inspire. More compelling graphics, dynamic animation, and concise text points are all focused on keeping an audience engaged.

Future webcasts will likely bridge the gap between reality and virtual reality, as the size and resolution of display monitors increase, providing for greater involvement and virtual integration of audiences. High definition video, 3D rendering, and a more robust and integrated Web 2.0 will eventually provide for a more dimensional and involved presentation experience…delivering more results and greater success to presenters and their audiences.

Webcastaways: The Real Deal

Despite the popularity and appeal of webcasts and webinars, many managers and professionals still view the web-based presentation as a novelty. They say there’s simply no substitute for a presentation delivered face-to-face to a live and engaged audience.

Many experienced business professionals say that webcast audiences simply don’t take webcasts as seriously as a  live meeting. Participants are multitasking maniacs, dividing their attention between texting, chatting, and other work. And, unlike a live meeting, a webcast is a two-dimensional experience. Presenters complain of a lack the feedback from their audience. A digital happy face or frown is no substitute for the complexity of human emotion that can be conveyed face-to-face.

Jay Forte, a business consultant and speaker believes the meeting industry will rebound from this downturn with a sharpened and renewed focus on the value of a live presentation.

“The industry is committed to results. Regardless of efficiencies developed through technology, face-to-face interactive presentations continue to be the most effective way to influence behavior change, share an important message and activate performance. Live meetings continue to offer the greatest return on presentation investment because they are more personal, interactive and customized; they more consistently connect with and engage an audience,” explains Forte.

Experts say that face-to-face networking is also sacrificed in webcasts. Participants at live conferences have the opportunity to meet others with common interests and similar backgrounds…for mentoring, strategies, commerce, or simply friendship.

Management is recognizing the value of webcasts, but also the inherent limitations. Despite the technological triumphs of webcasts, most experts agree that the live meeting will experience a renaissance and resurgence.

16:9 Aspect Ratio Has Wide Appeal

We have seen the future, and it is here: a recent study confirmed that all new computers for sale on the market today- Mac or PC – are able to display at the high-definition widescreen format of 1920×1200. The human eye layout (left and right) comfortably and easily adapts to this increasingly popular 16:9 aspect ratio. But the typical PowerPoint presentation has not caught up to ubiquity of this format…seen on nearly all new monitors and plasma televisions sold today.

As the older 4:3 diminishes, and people reduce their use of paper-based presentations (8.5″ x 11″), the 16:9 widescreen will quickly and formidably transform the presentation industry. Convention planners are already designing meeting sets in wide-screen format. Conference rooms are being designed with large widescreen monitors on the walls.

The increased popularity of 16:9 screen plasma monitors are forcing presenters and speakers to either suffer and watch their 4:3 formatted presentation distorted and stretched to fit, or placed in the center of the screen, sacrificing up to 20% of valuable screen real-estate to empty black borders.

With a few quick edits in PowerPoint or Keynote – or by starting these presentations off in the widescreen format- presenters are giving their presentations wide appeal.

Presentations on the Go: Smartphones Deliver Ovations

More and more people are using their Blackberries, iPhones, and Smartphones as presentation tools. Videos and PowerPoint presentations reformatted for the small screen are empowering presenters to share their message wherever and whenever.

The convenience of a brief presentation, formatted for the iPhone that helps support your message can be very powerful to make your message more memorable when you need to inform, inspire or motivate. Whether the presentation is stored locally, or streamed from a website, the smartphone is another new weapon for making a mark in the presentation industry.

The iPad: The Perfect Presentation Product?

Apple’s  iPad has transformed the way the world presents…overnight. Some sales managers are buying them en-masse, to distribute to their armies of sales professionals. Just hours after Apple announced their new “magical and revolutionary” iPad, presentation and training industry experts were proclaiming that this simple yet sophisticated product would change the presentation market.

On the surface, delivering your message from an iPad sends a message of technological savvy and sophistication…affluence and hipness. Apple’s Keynote software already has a perceived edge over PowerPoint for effects, power, and elegant simplicity. The iPad allows these Keynote (and PowerPoint) presentations to be shown easily and simply.

A well-designed presentation with text, graphics, video, audio, and interactivity – delivered by a qualified professional on a new iPad – is sure to win new clients and close more sales.

Cloudware Creates Virtual Presentations

I was recently at a friend’s house on a Saturday night and I wanted to share a presentation I designed, but I didn’t have my laptop with me. So using his laptop, we went to SlideShare.com and easily and instantly accessed my library of presentations. With a few quick clicks, we were watching my presentation through this virtual reality technology commonly referred to as “cloudware.”

Increasingly, people are leveraging the connectivity of the internet to share files, connect, and move beyond the limitations of their laptops. More presentations are being uploaded online to private file sharing sites, or shared on systems like SlideShare or YouTube.

Open Source presentation software that’s compatible with PowerPoint is making its mark, as Google Docs’ Presentations becomes increasingly popular and easy to use.  Another product with big financial backing is SlideRocket, a web-based presentation design tool that touts its simplicity and power.

The delivery and design of presentations using cloudware (online) is gaining in popularity. Users are becoming more comfortable with the ease of access, file sharing, distribution, and growing number of features and functions that “cloudware presentations” provide. It remains to be seen whether presentations in the future will be created using server-based technology – most corporations still want to keep their software local – but future presentations will increasingly be presented in the clouds.

Movement Captures Attention: Amped-up Animation and Video

From our earliest days as infants, we have been captivated by movement. Our eyes fixate on items in motion. As business presenters search for secrets to capture their audience’s attention and make a greater impact, the need for amped-up animated slides is increasing.

Be on the lookout for video background templates, the next big wave to hit PowerPoint in the coming months. Rumor has it that the new version of PowerPoint 2010 will support (and include) motion backgrounds. Presentation visuals will likely adapt motion and imagery similar to a newscast’s images. Elegant but animated flying titles will become the in-thing as presenters strive to maintain their audiences’ attention.

Thanks to increases in technology, bandwidth, and software proficiency, presenters will have more tools at their fingertips to create presentations that help communicate the message through 3D rendered animated examples. Videos will easily bring the outside world to the inside audience. And simple screen transitions and text animations will provide subtle eye candy to make presentations more fun and engaging.

The Collapse of Clip Art…and Rise of Reality Photos

If you’re a graphic illustrator, chances are you’re having a tough time keeping busy. Most professional presentations these days with graphics are using photographs and 3D imagery rather than vector-based clip-art. This illustrative format (.WMF, .EPS, .AI) was the in-thing just a few years ago. The file size was small, the elements were editable, and the style was cute and comfortable. Collections of clip-art flooded the market. First 10,000. Then 50,000. Then 500,000-piece collections.

But in recent years, people have rebelled against clip art, looking to the more sleek and stylish stock photo for added flair and impact. Websites like iStockPhoto.com and photos2go.com have helped raise the bar for trendy presentation design, delivering contemporary photographic images that inspire and delight.

Still, illustrative art is far from dead, as avatars and comic-book-style action characters make a resurgence. A recent presentation for Cox Communications that I helped develop included a 3D cartoon character – “Digi” – whose role was to help commuicate key messages home to the audience.

Dynamic photos and clipped images have ushered in a wave of modernism and “reality” to presentations, helping to create a look and feel that audience members can connect with. Presentation designers are reaching deeper into their stock photo libraries to find appropriate images, or creating images in Photoshop.

Bigger presentations are going a step further to create a “reality-TV” look by making their team the stars of the presentation with team photos and imagery direct from the field.  With the increased popularity of digital cameras and smartphones, anyone can take a photo and integrate it into a presentation to help drive the message home.

Let There be Light: The Bright Idea About Backgrounds

When I first started creating presentations in the early 1990s, I read articles and saw examples of slides with light white text dark set against blue gradient backgrounds. Scientific studies emphasized that the human mind can comprehend information easier if its set against dark background. Moreover, the projection technology of the time (35mm slides and first-generation 3-color video projectors) showcased the sleek appeal and striking contrast of a presentation with a dark background.

But in recent years, the trend has turned and presenters are getting a bright idea, by using a lighter background with darker text. Presenters and designers say the lighter look is fresher, relaxed, and newer, sending a subconscious message of openness, ease, and flow. Additionally, a light textured background also works easier when a presentation needs to be printed, as no colors need to be converted; the background can be just turned off.

The bottom line: projection technology has advanced considerably. When designing a presentation, feel the mood and explore the impact that the audience or event is meant to be conveying.

Bullets Bite the Dust

We’ve all seen our share of horrible slides crammed with bullet points. Speakers dumping their entire speech onto a few pages…and then reading it to their audience. In more recent times, companies like Apple have been pushing the beautiful brilliance of simplicity in presentation design. And it’s working. An increasing number of presentations are indeed appearing shorter and succinct. Small headlines. Brief bullets. Graphics that tell the story.

Perhaps it’s tools like Twitter that’s awakening people to the power of a short focused headline. Perhaps it’s the realization that more slides doesn’t always mean more time or money and it’s okay to split points across multiple pages. Perhaps it’s simply the web working to share the gospel of a good presentation design.

Robert Swanwick runs Speaker Interactive, an online media product for speakers bureaus to supplement their in-person speaker offerings. He says he’s pleased that people are biting the bullet, but is most excited about the multi-dimensional approach of the next generation of presentation tools.

“The upcoming set of presentation tools that are gaining traction now create a large canvas where you can build zoom points.  This is quite a distance from today’s PPT which is basically a set of disconnected rectangles,” explains Swanwick. He says that tag clouds – a weighted list in visual design – are making their way into presentations as a more accepted and non-linear navigation and communication.

We have a long way to go before the majority of the world knows what it takes to create a good clean presentation. But maybe – just maybe – we’re making inroads into the concept of “less is more.”

Shining a Light on Smaller, Brighter, and Economical Projectors

Compact, lightweight and super mobile, an increasing number of pocket-sized microprojectors are shining a bright light of opportunity for people wanting to present or share digital content on-the-move. These micro projectors are LED-driven devices that offers full VGA resolution connectivity to a range of multimedia devices. The higher end models contain SD card readers, to display presentations or images on the go. AC or battery-powered, these micro projectors are fast and easy ways to get your presentation projected in a compact area. They’re priced from $150.

Prices and size continue to drop for DLP and LCD projectors, as their functionality and brightness continues to climb. HD projectors are increasingly visible, delivering theater-like quality in a shoebox size powerhouse. Brighter and sharper output are making the future of presentations powerful and potent.

Exciting tools are on the horizon.  But regardless of the medium and technology, the key to a successful presentation is still the presenter.  And sometimes less is more.

About the Author:

Kevin Lerner is an expert in the field of high-impact presentation design and delivery.  Since founding The Presentation Team in 1995, Kevin has developed presentations for clients including Oracle, Motorola, ADT, Tyco, Comcast Cable, Office Depot, Ryder, UBS Financial, and numerous small to medium sized companies and individuals.  Kevin is a member of the National Speakers Association, Florida Speakers Association, and Toastmasters International.  For more about his company’s services, visit  www.PresentationTeam.com

5 Quick Ways to Organize a Presentation

By Nick Morgan

Too many people structure their presentations by pulling together slides and then assembling them like a deck of cards, in what seems like an OK order. That usually means that no one except the presenter can divine where the speech is headed.

That’s a bad idea.

At the heart of a successful presentation is a clear structure. Which one should you use? The best structure for what you’re trying to do depends on the nature of your talk. Following are five possible situations in the organizational world for which you might be called upon to present; pick the one that best suits your actual situation.

1. You might be called upon to report progress. In that case, use the following structure:

1. Describe the issue or assignment, including why it’s important
2. Describe the critical outstanding problems
3. Prioritize them, and describe how they’re being addressed
4. Describe successes to date – positive progress made
5. Close with action steps

2. You might be called upon to recommend a strategy. For that situation, here’s a good structure:

1. Define the objective
2. Describe the current conditions
3. Describe the desired state
4. List the possible strategies, with pros and cons of each
5. Identify best one, describe next steps

3. You might be called upon to persuade your audience of the excellence of a particular product, service, or idea – a sales talk. Here’s how to organize that one:

1. Frame the need that the product, service, or idea addresses
2. Describe the need in more detail
3. Describe the ways in which your solution addresses the need
4. Describe the benefits of buying in to your solution
5. Get agreement on a next step

4. You might be called upon to choose among several alternatives. Here’s the best way to present:

1. Frame the situation
2. Describe the criteria for success and prioritize them
3. Describe alternatives
4. Compare to the criteria and eliminate alternatives that don’t meet criteria
5. Recommend best remaining alternative

5. You might be called upon to teach a procedure or a skill. In that case, proceed as follows:

1. Frame the skill in terms of its importance to the audience
2. Explain the skill or procedural steps involved
3. Get the audience to try some aspect of the skill or procedure
4. Review and summarize, including anything the audience did not try
5. Describe what the audience can do on its own to acquire the skill or procedure

About the Author:

Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and presentation skill coaches. In his blog he covers modern communications from a variety of angles, including the latest developments in communication research, the basic principles and rules of good communication, and the good and bad speakers of the day. For more information, visit www.publicwords.com

Presentation Tales: It’s About the Story, Not the Storyteller

By Jim Endicott

Wedged in the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern half of Tennessee is the two-century-old town of Jonesborough. As small towns go, this one is relatively rich in history but its greatest claim to fame isn’t its strategic significance in the Civil War or a famous resident. Jonesborough has distinguished itself as the epicenter of a worldwide revival in storytelling and the National Storytelling Center.

Lest you relegate the art of storytelling to small town libraries on a Saturday morning, a quick visit to their website (Storytellingcenter.com) and their Creative Applications pages will broaden your perspective considerably. You’ll discover that the same set of skills that keep a 5-year old glued to a Sunday school teacher are not unlike the balance of spoken versus visual material (augmented by some good personal communication skills) that keep an anxious board of directors or high profile client intently listening to your “story.”

“Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon
in a leader’s arsenal.”
Dr. Howard Gardner, Professor, Harvard University

We’d like to believe that the art of delivering a good presentation is unique. After all, we use this software called PowerPoint to capture our thoughts, laptops and electronic projectors blast colorful images on the wall and, oh yeah, all audiences are different too – or are they?

Before you abandon the idea of storytelling for a more traditional approach to presentation delivery, let me challenge your ideas about the presentation process. If I win, you’ll change for the better. If I lose, you get to keep doing things the way you always have.

It’s about the story, not the storyteller

Imagine for a moment that we took the story away from the storyteller. All the very best delivery skills and beautifully illustrated pages could not sweep the audience along for even a minute. In the same way, presentations desperately need a strong underlying story that is appropriate for the audience. It needs to connect with issues, characters and personal interest that represent common ground with the audience.

For lack of a compelling story, many presentations have died a slow and agonizing death.

Strong opening statement (Opening chapter)

In the opening moments of a presentation, an audience will make a quick determination if the presentation they are about to sit through is about them, the presenter or their prowess with the software and technology.

We use the opening moments of a presentation to create clear relevance to an audience, often times through a well-rehearsed opening personal story or challenge statement that engages not only their minds, but hearts as well. Practice this critical time until it flows like water. A good start will also help you through the initial moments of nervousness as you get your bearings with the room and your audience.

Smooth topic transitions (Chapter transitions)

All the topics of a presentation should paint a clear path towards the promises made in your opening comments regarding how this presentation relates to them. When there is little connectivity between subtopics, we run the risk of losing momentum in a presentation or even worse, our audience’s interest.

When rehearsing your presentation, work on how you transition between presentation subtopics so a thread of the storyline is carried through to the next area. Subtopics of a presentation break up a long and lengthy single topic delivery like chapters in a book break up the storyline into more palatable packages of thought.

Well-orchestrated and rehearsed conclusion (Strong ending)

Far too often presentations appear to end not because there is a clear conclusion, but rather it seems the presenter ran out of slides, time, or both. A storyteller works hard so his or her audiences understand the moral of the story. If the whole point of the story is not clearly understood, a good storyteller would be hard pressed to consider the day a success. Yet many presenters fly through the end of their presentations with little regard for a crisp, well-rehearsed conclusion.

Spend 30% of your practice time simply working on the opening and closing 5- to- 8 minutes of your presentation. Pull all the pieces together so the audience understands the main points behind your presentation. If your time is cut short, never compromise the time for your closing comments. Abbreviate the depth of description in the middle of the presentation if necessary, but never the conclusion.

Graphics Aren’t the Story

The pictures in a book are not the story, only a graphical set of supporting images that add greater depth to the spoken word. The pictures create emotion and connection (right-brain imagery) between the audience and storyline. Show them the same old pictures in every story and they will quickly lose their impact. In the same way, using the same stock PowerPoint template and clipart is a fast track to mediocrity.

Imagine if the storyteller simply held up the book and expected the audience to squint and read the pages for themselves. Text-intensive presentations seem to ask the very same thing from their audiences. Just like a children’s book has unique design considerations for the medium, presentation graphics also require unique considerations that center around saying less with more graphically-oriented supporting images. The illustrated story can never upstage the storyteller.

The Illustrated Story

One thing’s for sure, a storyteller uses his or her entire body to communicate a story. Their passion is reflected in how their eyes connect with the audience and “invite” them to participate. Eye contact with a senior staff or potential partner is no less critical. That’s why reading off cue cards or turning and reading from a projected presentation screen are usually the kisses of death for making any kind of relational connection.

A good presenter, like a good storyteller, orchestrates physical distance to create emphasis and greater relational connections. When you are making a key point or telling a personal story that supports your presentation, a step or two towards your audience will raise their attention level and give those words more impact. Don’t overuse that sacred delivery space or it too, will lose its importance.

The evidence is painfully clear: many presenters today fail to effectively connect in a meaningful way with their hopeful audiences. Their overly structured delivery supported by gratuitous use of text and graphics leave them and their audiences wondering if things could ever change.

I would suggest that we could all benefit from a trip to Jonesborough, even for a day, because our biggest obstacles as presenters are not the technology, software or audience — it’s the prevailing paradigms we’ve associated with presenting that hold back average presenters from being truly great.

About the Author:

Jim Endicott is president of Distinction Communication Inc, a Newberg, OR consulting firm specializing in message development, presentation design and delivery skills coaching.  For more information about his firm’s services, visit  www.distinction-services.com

The Vital Role of ‘Active Conduits’ in Remote Sales Presentations

By Peter Cohan

The very best practice for remote sales demonstrations is to split your forces – to have a representative from your organization at the customer site to serve as the eyes for the person presenting the demo remotely. The person at the customer site needs to be an Active Conduit of information to the demonstrator – he or she needs to be the demonstrator’s “eyes” on-site.

The lack of this Active Conduit feedback results in poor communication, confused presenters and audiences, and inconclusive results. Executing the role of the Active Conduit is critical to the success of Remote Demos – a passive representative from your company at the customer site is insufficient and a waste of resources.

For many vendors it’s the sales person who typically sits with the customer at the customer site. Next best, if you cannot have one of your representatives present, is to ask your champion or coach to be your “eyes” for the meeting.

Here’s a brief list of the items that need to be communicated by the person at the customer site to the remote individual:

Before the demo:

1. Arrive at the customer’s conference room 15 minutes before the formal meeting is scheduled to begin to get things set up and operating correctly:

a) Start the collaboration tool (e.g., GoToMeeting, WebEx, Live Meeting, etc.) session on the customer side.

b) Help test and confirm screen resolution issues – “Yes, I can see your mouse across the full diagonal and we’ve maximized the screen here on the receiving end.”

c) Help test and confirm audio – “Yes, I can hear you fine… Here, let me move the conference phone microphones to better positions so that you can hear us better.”

d) Help test “latency” – “Looks like we have about a 2 second delay right now…”

2. Plan for managing questions – “Can you please plan to capture questions in a Word document from your laptop during the session?”

3. Review any other pre-meeting plans or issues.

During the demo:

1. Alert regarding “latency” – “Looks like you are about 3 seconds ahead of what we are seeing here… You may need to slow down.”

2. Somebody new arrives at the meeting – “Before you go on, we have a new participant in the room…” And to ask the three questions:

a) What is your name?
b) What is your job title?
c) What would you like to accomplish during our session today?

3. Somebody leaves – “Just to let you know, Bob had to leave the meeting….”

4. Unspoken questions
– “Hang on, it looks like Jennifer has a question [furrowed brow, raised hand, look of confusion, etc.].”

5. Inability to hear
– “John, let me repeat that question for you…”

6. Manage and alert during side conversations
– “Hold on, we have a side conversation going on about the capability you just presented…”

7. Provide “color” commentary, as appropriate
, e.g., “I want to let you know that they are all smiling and nodding their heads…!”

After the demo:

1. Debrief with the customer – face-to-face feedback provides nuances often missed via the phone.

2. Listen for “casual” conversations – what else are the audience members saying about the demo, the product, the company…

3. Afterwards, communicate this information back to the balance of the selling team.

You can train your own representatives to execute these items – or your champion/coach – by reviewing this list with them ahead of your demos. Following these practices will improve the outcome of your Remote Demos markedly!

About the Author:

Peter E. Cohan is principal of The Second Derivative. For more articles on sales demonstration effectiveness skills and methods, visit the company’s website at www.SecondDerivative.com. For demo tips, best practices, tools and techniques, join the DemoGurus Community Website at www.DemoGurus.com or explore the Second Derivative blog at http://greatdemo.blogspot.com/.

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