Kickass Business Presentations: How To Persuade Your Audience Every Time

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No previous public speaking experience required. Unexpected questions get thrown at us everywhere: in meetings, at interviews, at conferences, during sales pitches and even at home. But how do we quickly improvise an answer? How do we answer questions with compelling confidence? It sounds daunting, but with a little preparation, an improvised speech can even become fun and rewarding!

This Berlin Speaking seminar will take your fear of improvised speaking and teach you the secrets to never again feeling unprepared on a stage or in the meeting room. In a one-on-one training, I will guide you on your path from writing to performing, individually tailoring the content to your needs. To book a session or enquire about training and prices, please get in touch. Want to boost the presentation culture in your organisation, or improve your own speaking skills? Your Name required.

Your Email required. Phone number required. Your Message. His workshops are motivating, inspiring and fun. He helped the students a lot to develop a great story for their pitches and present them in a convincing, confident way. Thank you for your great work! Pascal developed and delivered an engaging and valuable workshop about debate techniques for the Berlin Spreeredner Toastmasters Club and our guests. Feedback was excellent from all participants. Thank you Pascal! His performance convinced me more than fully, because 1 Pascal got to the facts right away and presented them in a stimulating yet unobtrusive manner, 2 he used a self-produced video clip during the workshop that was a blast and 3 everybody got to participate in the second half.

We had other workshops involving debating before, but Pascal raised the bar conceivably and our speakers grew to the challenge. Obviously, Pascals meticulous preparation paid off. Berlin Speaking seminars can be held in English or German. For seminar booking and custom requests, please get in touch. Bring technical concepts to life.

Pitch your way to success. Tell engaging stories. What you will get from this seminar: Understand the elements of a story Find your own story Discover how to make stories emotionally captivating Understand how stories inspire Learn how to make your story relevant to your audience Learn when and how to use stories for optimal effect. Speak with confidence. If you have a basic grasp of writing business presentations, but are looking to add a layer of depth to your knowledge — then you should read the guide in order.

Presentation writing skills are under-rated. They have, in fact, a profound effect on your career success. In Chapter 1, we will layout the reasons why developing presentation skills can accelerate career advancement and explore why writing presentations is such a deceptively challenging task.

We'll also introduce a framework for thinking about the skills one must master to become truly proficient at writing business presentations. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there. And a lot of fantastic presentation styles which one can emulate. In the end, as with much in life, the answer to 'which style should I copy? In this chapter we expand on the general 'horses for courses' answer. We'll introduce you to a number of alternate schools of presentation design and layout the precise circumstances under which each is powerful.

The dirty little secret of presentation writing is that the vast majority of presentations that we write are not presented! At least not in a formal, auditorium kind of way. In this section we will explore the characteristics of the McKinsey or consulting in general style presentation and identify the things it does well and why this style is so useful.

There are five disciplines one must master to become great at writing killer business presentations. This is the heart of our process and of the SlideHeroes course:. Your job is to communicate an answer to a question. When the audience cannot follow your answer, when they cannot follow the logical steps that flow through your argument, they become frustrated. In this chapter we will dive deep into several business writing techniques you can use to help structure your presentation. Our brains are wired to learn from and remember stories.

Presentations that effectively make use of storytelling techniques are easier to understand and remember. To better understand how to present facts in the form of data we will start with Edward Tufte and a theory for the visual display of quantitative information. We will also explore the differences between tables and graphs, and how to know when to use each.

The chapter will conclude with an overview of the standard graphs that are most commonly found in business presentations. How do I make my slides look good? We get this question a lot. Usually the implicit assumption underlying that question is that it is a PowerPoint or Keynote question. In fact, creating good looking slides is, in the main, not a question of PowerPoint skills it is a basic tool, pretty easy to learn.

It is a design question, not an IT question. The good news is that the basics of slide design are not difficult to master because, in general, less is more. This chapter focuses on straight-forward design strategies you can employ to create amazing looking slides. We will also discuss tips and techniques that you can apply to improve the delivery of your presentation. One of the things we emphasize strongly at SlideHeroes is the need to focus on the creation of the presentation material - the content, the structure, the story and the data.

But you better believe a presentation is a performance. Delivery matters, even if you are sitting down. This chapter focuses on the kind of preparation and practice that is required to take a well written deck and deliver a great public speaking performance. This post is the most popular on our site and, as a consequence, a lot of readers discover SlideHeroes for the first time via this Advanced Guide.

We do this by giving you the communication tools you need to impress, convince and close.

Start improving your presentation immediately with our free 7-Day course trial. The ability to write clear and impactful PowerPoint-based McKinsey presentations is, for young and mid-level professionals, one of the most valuable skills you can master. The problem many young professionals face is that unless they luck out early in their career and learn the craft of creating business presentations from someone pretty exceptional — they probably suck at it.

Becoming exceptional at crafting board-level presentations presentations that kick ass is tough. Much harder than most people realize. Most of us initially dismiss the challenge as a PowerPoint formatting challenge — a time consuming technical challenge that should be delegated. In fact, crafting successful presentations is a multi-disciplinary challenge that requires the mastery of a broad SET of distinct skills:. Many from this list are either very challenging to master, or are seen by many as simply innate.

Different approaches to crafting and delivering a business presentation. Pecha Kucha is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each six minutes and 40 seconds in total. It is a format designed to keep presentations concise and fast-paced and is often adopted for multiple-speaker events PechaKucha Nights.

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Here is an example from the author Dan Pink of a Pecha Kucha presentation. Dan briefly explains the format and then goes on to give a Pecha Kucha about a favorite topic of his. It is a pretty good example. Unfortunately Dan messes up the pronunciation of Pecha Kucha lots of people do. If you are curious as to how to pronounce Pecha Kucha, have a look at this video. TED Talks are, quite simply, some of the most fascinating talks you will ever hear.

The power of the ideas, and the skill of many of the presenters in the delivery of these ideas, has popularized an 18 minute presentation format that emphasizes story and big ideas. Larry Lessig is a Harvard Law Professor, founding board member of the Creative Commons, and strong proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark, and radio frequency spectrum. He is also an amazing speaker.

Lessig has, over the years, developed a very unique style that he has continued to refine. Have a look:. The rule states that a presentation should have no more than 10 slides, take no longer than 20 minutes, a contain no font smaller than 30pt. There are many other styles. When we say presentation, we often mentally picture ourselves standing in front of a crowd.

And this is a problem. Some of it focuses on the creation of the presentation, but for presentations in a forum type setting. Our focus here is on what to do when you are sitting down. Our focus is on the creation of content for the presentations we give everyday. These types of business presentations require a specific presentation approach that the consulting school of presentation design is tailor made for. There are a number of factors that make the McKinsey presentation, or Consulting style of presentation, unique and powerful:. This is not an exhaustive list of the characteristics of this style of presentation, but these are perhaps the most material.

Hopefully you can see how they distinguish the consulting business presentation style from other approaches. Zen-style presentations popularized by Garr Reynolds, for example, stand in stark contrast reliance on imagery; focus on conference-style presentations. Below is a BCG presentation , which is a good example of this type of presentation. We have annotated it with comments on how it could be even better, but, in general, it is a good example. This approach to business presentation design applies across a range of different business situations:.

If you are still in doubt as to when to use this style of business presentation, here are a few tests to apply:. Have a look at the following presentation for an example of why the first test above is important ;-. There are 5 disciplines one must master to effectively write and present impactful business presentations:. It brings order, clarity.

It enables understanding. We know it when we see it even if it is just subconsciously because comprehension immediately becomes easier. Our mind is automatically sorting information into distinctive groups and establishing hierarchies of relationships between these groups semantic network model all the time. There are half a dozen or so tricks, which when employed obsessively, can allow you to quickly cut through most of the pitfalls and fairly unhelpful theory of logic to produce a structure that works.

Your mind is automatically imposing order on everything around you, all the time. You are grouping, classifying and imposing relationships on all the information your brain processes. The goal in crafting a presentation is to facilitate the mental processing that is going on in the mind of your audience. To make this processing as easy as possible. This led to a well know rule of thumb that stated people only had the capacity to process 7 chunks of information at a time. More recent conclusions state that people can really only process concepts — and only one at a time.

As a consequence, we should seek to structure our ideas into groups of or less. Put simply — there is no such thing as 7 or 9 of anything. If you have a list of 9 things, then you need to go up a level of abstraction and group them into buckets.

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Kickass Business Presentations by David Goldwich - Read Online

It is easy to take this insight too far. There is no magical number of bullets per slide. Edward Tufte has some interesting things to say about this here. At its core, this is about a relatively self evident truth: Your audience will struggle to process information. Help them out by being aware of the number of discrete ideas you are sharing at any one time. MECE stands for mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive. It is terminology that today is synonymous with McKinsey and other top-tier consultancies. The term refers to the idea of structuring lists of ideas in ways where the list is:.

The following list of options for where to go for dinner is not mutually exclusive:. There is overlap within this list. There could be Italian restaurants east of us. Some restaurants south of us could have music. You will be surprised at how many groups of ideas you will create which will fail this test — and result in you thinking about additional, great points and ideas that make you argument even more powerful.

Deductive reasoning starts out with a general statement, or hypothesis, and examines the possibilities to reach a specific, logical conclusion. The scientific method uses deduction to test hypotheses and theories. The deductive argument presents ideas in successive steps. An example of this type of argument is:. Inductive arguments can take very wide ranging forms. Inductive arguments might conclude with a claim that is only based on a sample of information. Generally, our advice is to construct inductive-based arguments. They are easier for an audience to absorb because they require less effort to understand.

The challenge is that our instinct when writing a presentation is to present our thinking in the order we did the work, which is usually a deductive process. No one cares what you did. How hard you worked. They want an answer to a question, not a tour of what you were up to for the last month! The start of a presentation requires special attention from a structural point of view. It contains many traps which can lead unsuspecting authors astray.

The purpose of the presentation is to address a question in the mind of the audience. The objective of the introduction is to establish the groundwork to plant this question, so that the rest of our presentation can focus on answering it. Financial performance last year was fantastic, but growth has stalled in the first quarter…. Begin at the beginning. It is comprised of facts that the audience would be aware of and agree with in advance of reading the presentation. This helps to ground the presentation and establish a common starting point. This is where the complication comes in. A strategy for returning to growth has been proposed….

What happened next? The key objective of the complication is to trigger the Question that your audience will ask in their mind. Is this the right strategy? The Question arises logically from the Complication and leads into the Answer. It is not explicitly stated in the introduction, it is implicit.

Yes, it will drive growth because…. The Answer to the Question is the substance of presentation and your main point. It is your recommendation. Summarize it first — completing your introduction — then break it down into details and write the main body of your presentations. This is where we develop our inductive argument, deploying groups of MECE ideas on the way to proving our point. We need to do this next. In fact, the next steps are the objective of your entire presentation.

You want to identify these next steps early in the process of developing your presentation so that you can be sure to design a presentation that drives your audience to the action you desire. Storytelling is a timeless human tradition. Before the written word, people would memorize stories that shaped cultures for generations. We are wired for communicating through and learning from stories. Via storytelling techniques we can elevate our presentations to something that moves people.

Sometimes, it is obvious that this is our goal. We are presenting at TED. We are making a speech to our employees about our new strategy. We are delivering our first State of the Union address…. Our topic may feel mundane — lacking the grand themes that great stories seem to require. When this happens, often our mistake is in framing the objective of our presentation as an exercise in conveying information — to update. Rather, the objective of our presentations should be to persuade. To, in-fact, establish in the minds of the audience an important question, and persuade that audience of the validity of our answer.

When we need to update — we need to identify the question the audience should have in their minds as a consequence of the update. There are a couple of reasons why stories can be more effective than fact-based arguments at persuading audiences. You cannot change an emotionally charged opinion with a rational argument, but you can get your audience to empathize with a hero in a story and thereby affect the emotions they have connected to that subject.

By immersing your audience in a story, you bypass that resistance. As we have discussed, our brains think in terms of stories. We find it easier and more efficient to process stories. In fact, we have a pronounced bias towards stories. As a consequence your audience is much more likely to remember the stories you tell them and the messages those stories contain and more likely to repeat them to others.

As a primer, have a listen to Academy award nominated documentary film maker Ken Burns The Civil War, Jazz talk about story especially the fist half. In the video Burns explores what makes a great story. Nancy Duarte does a fantastic job of exploring how story is critical to the creation of a great presentation. In this video, Nancy makes the point that stories and reports occupy opposite ends of a spectrum. She makes the case that in order to convey the meaning behind your report, you need to introduce elements of story, in order to engage with your audience on a more human level.

The appropriate balance you need to strike between story and reporting will be entirely driven by the context of your own presentation. Pragmatist philosopher — They must demonstrate, not simply assert. The effort required to do this is also a key reason why so many poor presentations lack a fact-based approach to persuasion. There are no short cuts. This is where real effort pays off with discriminating audiences. They will test your assertions. Challenge your data.

Poke, probe and dissect your analysis. Your audience does this because they suspect what you are saying is important. And if they act on what you are saying, and it turns out you were wrong… well this would reflect negatively on them.

How to prepare a kick-ass creative presentation

So, in a way, receiving the third-degree in a presentation can be a good sign. It is for situations like this that you need data, facts and proof. You will be eaten alive if you simply assert. But your data, facts and proof should be in support of your structure, your story. The goal is not to squeeze in all the analysis you have done. Inevitably much of your analysis will not be required to make your central argument. Be equally ruthless in sorting and prioritizing what analysis is required to make your point.

When you have data that you would like to present, resist the urge to throw it into the sexiest 3D pie chart you can create. Instead, think first about how you intend to use the data and what point you are trying to make with the data. Graphs and tables excel at different things and depending on your purpose, one will be a better choice than another. The primary benefit of a table is that it makes it easy to look up individual values.

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There are four uses of data for which a table is a good option:. Business Charts , on the other hand, present the overall shape of the data. Graphs are used to display relationships among and between sets of quantitative values by giving them shape. When determining what type of graph to select, it is absolutely critical that you first consider what you are trying to say with the data.

When you are in the diagnostic phase of your work, you may not know what the data has to say, so you will try a few different approaches. But once it comes time to creating your presentation, the data on the page exists to support the message you have in your headline. You will have a very specific message you will want the data to convey.

You will have a specific relationship that you will want to represent. Graphic Designer and Academy Award-winning filmmaker. Visual thinking is the phenomenon of thinking through visual processing — it has been described as seeing words as a series of pictures. This research has a profound impact on how we need to think about communicating our ideas. It demands of us as presentation creators to continually think about how our ideas and concepts can be represented both verbally, but also visually.

Design, for many, is a challenge. Many attempt to solve this problem by hiring an agency to design a PowerPoint template for them. Or outsourcing the entire presentation design. We recommend a different approach, one rooted in investing a bit of effort and in applying a good understanding of the type of design that works best for presentations.

It is about credibility. Over 1, professionally designed slides. Fully editable. Multiple color versions. The very basics of slide design are not difficult to master because, in general, less is always more. The very best presentation design eliminates the excess. It is a minimalist strategy to focus on only what matters, and to avoid distracting the reader away from the central point. This minimalist design approach is not an aesthetic preference. It is a design strategy to support our presentation goal — the communication of our message.

The design of our presentation, of each slide, should be solely focused on supporting that goal. Focus on what your point is, and the key evidence required to prove that point — design around this. You do not need to be a graphics designer to create very effectively designed presentation slides. UK Prime Minister — The presentation has been written. The work has been put in. It is time to start thinking about the act of delivering the presentation.

Rehearse until you have memorized your script. We know this is boring.

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Try speaking the script out loud. In our experience it is very difficult to memorize a script simply reading it to yourself. Once you have spent enough time memorizing the script you will start to feel comfortable deviating and embellishing. This robust approach takes time and, to be honest, may only be appropriate for the most important of meetings.

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But it works. A fact-based approach to persuasion, and logical structure are techniques that, when applied, position you to have a very high degree of confidence in your material. The standards are high and sometimes unforgiving. By meeting them in advance, you can enter the room with a high level of confidence in your material. Show your passion for the material.