Thursday, June 10, 2010

4 Tips for a Successful Presentation

Whether embarking on a road show to raise equity in the private or public markets or preparing your comments for participation in a panel discussion, these tips will help you be more relevant and successful in connecting with your audience.

#1: What are the two biggest problems in a presentation?

The material is too technical and the presenter is disorganized and ill-prepared. We form impressions and make up our minds (positive or negative) within seven seconds of meeting someone!

Rambling Q&A session – A great presentation can fall apart in Q&A. Always be prepared by anticipating the questions and drafting insightful and organized answers.

#2: A client comes to you for a presentation or road show – where do you start?

We start by honing the core message of who they are, what they do and why the people/audience should care, down to the critical elements. We must understand quickly what you do or make, and then we will listen.

#3: For communication to be successful, what must be mastered?

You must touch me emotionally. An audience is always asking,"What is in it for me?" Benjamin Franklin expressed the concept in this way:

Tell me and I will forget
Show me and I might remember
Involve me and I will understand

When you engage an audience, you create an image that endures in the heart, mind or soul.

#4: What surprises people the most when they seek professional help with a presentation?

In short, how long it takes to create a good presentation that includes dialogue/script, transitions, slides/graphics, delivery, and Q&A development and practice. The presentation must be designed and edited again and again until it fits the presenter like a glove.

Next step? Go to work and turn these tips into action!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice

On a rainy Sunday morning in March, having secured the newspaper and with a Starbuck’s “tall” coffee, I quickly leafed through The New York Times Book Review. My purpose was to scope out reviews of interest for reading later in the day. The title “How to Be Brilliant” and a strange illustration caught my eye, and I stopped to read Annie Murphy Paul’s review of David Shenk’s book The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ Is Wrong.

Shenk’s thesis played out in his book is that genetics and practice, and lots of it (He calls it discipline.), play a greater role in achievement than anyone had previously thought.

I have to admit I have always had more than a passing interest in understanding how and why Yo-Yo Ma became the greatest living cellist. His father, Hiao-Tsiun Ma, a talented musician and skillful music teacher, appears to have played a significant role in developing his son’s musical ability. Yo-Yo Ma and his sister began studying first on the violin and, at his request, Yo-Yo Ma progressed to a larger instrument, the cello. He had his first recital at five, performed at Carnegie Hall at eight, and was by then on his way to being described as a musical prodigy.

This same scenario can be seen playing out not only in music but in sports as well. Tiger Woods started his career under his father Earl Woods’s tutelage and daily practice sessions. By the time Tiger was eight, he was considered very proficient at golf. When he was 21, he won the U.S. Masters at Augusta, Georgia.

Shenk talks about his own struggle to improve his writing: “I will routinely write and rewrite a sentence, paragraph and/or chapter 20, 30, 40 times – as many times as it takes to feel satisfied.” The reviewer concludes that given the content and importance of The Genius in All of Us, Shrenk may also become a writing genius, given time.

I see this all the time in my practice. A person can have decent presentation skills, but to be a fantastic communicator you have to be willing to put in the practice so you can deliver a flawless presentation that engages and informs your audience every single time.