101-How-To: Presenting live - 6 steps to survive

Let's face it.
The cruel, naked truth is: when presenting live, we ain't all equal.

This second post of the series "101-How-To" summarizes a training session I've created and animate with innovating companies (email me if you're interested;-))

Being a decent speaker is all the more important when your project is really innovative and disruptive: the more innovative the harder it is to make a project understood.

The idea here isn't to compete (yet) with presentation Gurus such as Steve J., Guy K. or Dave McC. No. The idea is to give you some strong foundations to build a meaningful, understandable and concise presentation of your project.

Step1: Prepare Jedi-like
I know this sounds funny... but you know what: some people still don't ;-)
  • People you're going to talk to, know you should
    Google them! LinkedIn them! etc.
  • The comprehensive story, telling you cannot
    Define up to 3 key messages. Max.
  • Universal ability to get understood, as birth gift you received not
    Test the accuracy of your messages with friends & co-worker: if they don't get it go back to bullet 2 (secret: avoid jargon)
  • Your jungle landscape, perfectly you will know
    It's human: whenever you present a new project, the person you're talking to will try to understand/position you in comparison to what she/he knows. To make sure you're well understood, study your competition to be able to answer "yeah, we can sound like CompanyA, but unlike them we're providing so many cool features to this precise scope of population, that it'll blow your mind away"... See what I mean?

    (and that'll be it for the Yoda Touch)
Step2: Organize your information
Let's make it easier for your kind listeners to memorize what you're saying.
  • Don't save the best for the end
    Shout out loud what's really soooo cool about your company right at the start and then explain it twice or three times during your talk
  • Get your self a tagline
    ... but a concise one ;-) Not a mission. A tagline! Start and conclude with it.
  • Get yourself some illustrations
    While presenting new concepts, illustrations and anecdotes do help your audience understand what you're saying :-)
  • The Declare-Illustrate-Conclude Mantra
    Be realistic and focus. Truth is: you'll never be able to explain all subtleties of your project in 10 minutes. Pick out the 3 key elements of your project and mention them several time under the declare-illustrate-conclude mantra.
Step3: Get neat & appealing slides
it takes time, but it's definitely worth it!

  • Make slides that promotes listening vs. reading
    ... well only if you want your audience to listen when you speak ;-)
  • Make yourself a favor and buy "PresentationZen"
  • The 10-20-30 rule
    This is a hint from Guy Kawasaki: 10 slides, 20 minutes, Font size=30 pt

Step4: Identify and master your own Clandestinos
Get yourself a video to spot and identify things you could/should change
  • A (controversted) study says that the words you're pronouncing only count for 7% of the meaning understood, the rest being carried out by your tone of voice and your nonverbal behavior. Beyond the controversy, the idea here is for you to keep in mind that your body and facial expression say a lot, as well. (see: Nonverbal Communication)
  • The "fillers" hunt: er, hum, like, you know, well, let's say...
    when repeatedly used, the fillers can parasitize your talk. Spot them and tame them :-)
Did you know that a (very) large chunk of the people whose presentation skills impress you actually know their stories by heart? This may not suit everybody, but at least:
  • Write down your text and say it out loud
  • in front of a mirror
  • again
  • and again
  • and (got it?)
Step6: Survival Kit
Now you're on stage, this is D-DAY.
  • Listen thoroughly to the questions... don't interrupt ;-)
    a) it's not respectful
    b) you may not actually know what it is that this person want to ask you
  • Rephrase
    a) to make sure you've got the question right
    b) to bring the discussion to a topic you want to cover
    c) to help other people in the room to follow the discussion
  • Stay focus on your key messages
  • Read carefully the body language of your audience
    Make sure they "stay" with you. In case they don't, change the tone of your voice, ask them questions, ... manage to get them back on board.
  • Oh and: don't forget to say the name of your company (or project) :-)
Bottom line is: presenting live requires hard work and preparation. And is FUN!

Hope you enjoyed the ride! Don't hesitate to share your tips, to say you agree or disagree with all the above. I'd love to read your feedback on this!

See ya soon!

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