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Presentation skills

Churchill or Chump?

What kind of speaker are you?
“Blah, blah, blah…” Most presentations are dull. Make that DULL. Sleep-inducing. Lacking inspiration. Colourless. Bland. “Blah, blah, blah…” A secret: I’m writing this during a mind-numbingly boring presentation by a leading lawyer with a top London legal partnership. I won’t name names for fear of being served a libel writ. But I reckon if I was sued for defamation I could successfully defend the case based on truth and fair comment. He is, without a shadow of doubt, droning on and on and on. Cleary he charges by the minute. Or by the word. Quite possibly by both. “Blah, blah, blah…” The speaker’s slides are as grey as his suit. Or the bits of his suit we can actually see because he appears to have been welded behind the lectern. Casting my eyes around the audience for a spot of visual stimulus I can see I’m not the only one attempting to tackle the tedium. To my left someone’s scribbling what looks like a shopping list. They’ve got a cat. Or weird culinary tastes. I know this because they’ve just written “get cat food” on the programme notes. “Blah, blah, blah…” To my right a bloke’s stabbing furiously with fat fingers at the tiny keyboard of his Blackberry. Emailing a colleague. Texting a lover. Or (my favourite if the first two aren’t available) playing Bullshit Bingo – a point for every jot of jargon uttered by Mr T Dium up on the stage. “Blah, blah, blah…” In a really bad presentation it’s quite possible to fill in a dozen or so bullshit bingo cards in just thirty minutes. Which is great for your bingo-playing prowess but a pity for the poor presenter. Why? Because very often a lot’s riding on a presentation. New business, for example, which in a recession can be a life and death issue in commercial terms. Or if you work in the Third Sector it can be a life and death issue in literal terms; do a good presentation and your performance might just save someone from an early grave. So how good are your presentations? Find out by taking part in our no obligation survey. It’s fun and it’s almost free (all we ask for is your email address which we do not share with anyone else but may use sparingly in the hope that you might part with a few bob and come on one of our excellent training courses!)
1. Audiences can't be compelled to pay attention to your presentations anymore than they could be forced against their will into a library or a cinema. Does your presentation start like a brilliant book or a marvellous movie with a compelling hook to capture people's attention?
2. The best presentations are more like a performance than a speech so you should think of the choreography as well as the words. If your presentation was performed by the Royal Ballet would the principal dancer (you) be:
3. The human voice is an instrument. The lungs and trachea are like the bagpipes, the vocal chords the strings on a violin, the mouth a horn from the wind section. Think of your presentation as a piece of music. Is it:
4. Confucius, he say, "I hear I forget. I see I remember. I do I understand." So powerful presentations – especially those where there's an element of training - need auditory, visual and kinaesthetic components. How quickly would the Chinese sage forget your presentation?
5. Interaction is almost always a component of successful presentations and very often absent in poor ones. Percentage-wise how much of your presentation is you and how much is the audience?
6. Humour can really help lift a presentation. Done well it relaxes both the presenter and the audience. Done badly it can have the exact opposite effect. If you were transported mid-presentation to a comedy club open mic night how much would be in the bucket by the end?
7. Presentations that are topical often rate more highly than those that don’t include fresh, up-to-the-minute information. Is your presentation:
8. Once upon a time...Story telling is a brilliant way of making presentations more engaging. As a storyteller are you:
9. Bad presentations fizzle out. Good presentations have a definite ending. Finish with a flourish. Or with a bang a crash or a wallop. If your presentation was an animal would it leave the room with:
10. Used well Powerpoint is excellent. Used badly it can lead to death. Just like any tool in fact. If Powerpoint was a powerdrill are you using it in your presentation to:
11. There's no such thing as a free lunch. We need to know a bit about you so that if you're serious about improving as a presenter we can point you in the right direction which is, you've guessed, towards ACM Training. Well really what did you expect?
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