Play Your Aces in a Presentation

Aces and a deck of cards spread out on a table

Recently I presented my full-day Presentation Transformation seminar to a group of highly talented executives at NatCon18, the national convention for behavioral health experts.  Early in the day unfolded, I noticed one woman knitting in the back of the room. It wasn’t a distraction. It was amazing. She did it effortlessly, without even thinking about it. And it didn’t distract her attention. It was part of who she was. A few minutes later, one of the men in the group shared … Continue reading

Five Mistakes That Can Kill Your Presentations

Five Mistakes that can kill your presentation

We all want to deliver a perfect presentation. I’ve been chasing that one for years. Former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Not a bad destination. Excellence, Not Perfection Excellence comes not only from chasing perfection but also from avoiding the mistakes that can spoil the chase, or in this case spoil the presentation. We all make mistakes. No avoiding that. And not all of them … Continue reading

Use Black Slides Not Blank Slides

Inserting a black slide into your presentation

The more I see presentations, keynote speeches, and TED Talks, the more I am convinced of one thing: less is more. Too many presenters and speakers use too many slides because they overlook a fundamental principle: Every thing you say does not need the support of a slide. Here is a second principle that will dramatically improve your effectiveness in the front of the room: Slides serve the presenter. The presenter doesn’t serve the slides. Don’t get me wrong, slides … Continue reading

The Tools I Like to Use

G Sandusky, logo

Before I jump into to sharing the tools that I use in presentations, I want to underscore that the tools don’t make a presentation great. Good tools and great tools enhance great ideas, but they can’t prop up shallow, vacuous, or meaningless ideas and poor presentation of those ideas. Tools can have a powerful, positive impact on the overall impact of your presentation but they can’t save a bad presentation. Okay, disclaimer out of the way, let’s jump in. I’m … Continue reading

Perfect is the Wrong Target for Your Presentation

A man wearing a bullseye shirt representing the pursuit of perfect

Business writer Patrick Lencioni says, “Trying to design the perfect plan is the perfect recipe for disappointment.” He’s on to something. Lencioni has sold more than five million books. The same holds for presentations. Perfection doesn’t work there either. No one ever walked out of a business presentation and said to a colleague, “Wow, that was a perfect PowerPoint.” Never. No, you don’t want to come across as sloppy, unprepared, or unprofessional. That’s common sense. But stop short of aiming … Continue reading

How a Comedian Can Help You Improve Your Next Presentation

Comedian on Stage

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I took my son and his friends (all over 21 years old) to a comedy club where I saw a comedian use a seamless technique to get the audience involved his routine. Any business presenter can use the same technique–without having to be funny. It comes down to this, a technique all good comedians and trial lawyers use: ask leading questions—all while the audience thinks you are just having a conversation. How the … Continue reading

A Simple Way to Share Complicated Material in a Presentation

A finger showing how to navigate complicated material in a presentation

The only thing harder than getting an audience’s attention is getting it back after you’ve lost it. Once they’re gone, they’re usually gone for good. Oh, you might still see people sitting in front of you, but they’ve checked out. And nothing gets people to check out faster in a presentation than confusing them with complicated information. That said, there are plenty of times we have to present complicated, intricate, or complex information. Do it in a way that makes … Continue reading

What Country Music Singers Can Teach You About Business Presentations

Two musicians playing guitar on stage.

My wife and I spent last weekend in Nashville where our son lives. We had a Sunday Fun-Day, hitting different bars and restaurants around town listening to music. After seeing six or seven different performers and duos a couple of parallels emerged between performers and business presenters. When the spotlight shines on you, you have to be ready to shine too. Just get going! The Spotlight: They use a spotlight for a reason. It shows people where to look. Audiences … Continue reading

How to Use Stories Unrelated to Your Presentation Topic to Improve Your Presentation

Man speaking into a microphone telling a story

A few years ago I heard Colin Powell speak at a conference. He spoke for about an hour and he touched on the many highlights of his career: four-star general, National Security Advisor, Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State. Heady stuff. What Audiences Remember But after the audience left Powell’s presentation, I noticed what audience members talked about in the lobby. They talked about stories Powell shared, especially a fun story he shared about his … Continue reading

How to Give a Speech or Presentation Like a Hall of Famer

Sign that reads Hall of Fame

Can you imagine the thrill of getting inducted into a hall of fame and joining a list of immortals? What would you say at your induction speech? The answer to that second question has led to talks that range from good to great to awful. The Path of Greatness It takes consistent greatness in your sport to make it to the hall of fame. Once you get there, it takes adherence to a proven set of principles to ensure your … Continue reading