How & When to Use Humor in Presentations

Women laughing together

Humor covers a lot of territory. And most of it is tricky terrain. It can come across as playful or hurtful, insightful or biting. Planned and staged or organic and natural. You can use it to make fun of yourself, self-deprecating humor or use it to make fun of other peoples. You can use it to warm up an audience in a presentation or you can misuse it and turn off an audience. Very different styles. Very different outcomes. User … Continue reading

Leadership Lessons from Kevin Plank

UnderArmour CEO Kevin Plank sitting in a chair

Recently I had the chance to moderate leadership session with UnderArmour CEO Kevin Plank. It was billed as a “fireside chat” at the Baltimore Ravens annual sponsor summit. For an hour I had a conversation with Kevin and folded audience questions into the dialogue. Kevin was more than generous with his time and his insights on leadership in general and his journey in particular. The leadership lessons Plank has learned from growing UnderArmour from start-up in his grandmother’s basement to … Continue reading

Get Your Audience to Shift from Wanting to Needing Your Presentation

Presenter in front of a wall of post it notes giving a presentation the audience needs to hear.

Everyone you know has problems. Everyone you present to has problems. And everyone you present to is looking for solutions.  That’s where you come in. Their Problems = Your Opportunity One fast and effective way to connect with your audience is to position your presentation as a solution to the audience’s problem or problems. Use your understanding of the audience’s problem or problems to establish a report. But the bulk of your content should help your audience move from problem … Continue reading

The Most Important Presentation You’ll Ever Give

Woman smiling while folding her arms and presenting herself

You don’t always know when you have to give your most important presentation. That’s what makes it so tricky. Throughout the course of your life and your career you will make a lot of important presentations. Some will seem similar, others wildly different. In some you’ll have the front of the room to yourself. In others you will share the platform with someone else or even a team of people.  Some of your presentations will raise awareness, some will raise … Continue reading

What to do–and not do–with your hands in a presentation

Presenter holding his hands up in a presentation

When was the last time your really thought about your hands? If you’re like most people you never really think about them. You just use them. Until you have to give a presentation. The front of the room seems to give your hands a bizarre life of their own. Show of Hands Have you ever started a presentation and suddenly felt like you didn’t know what you should do with your hands? They can suddenly feel like they need an … Continue reading

Appearance Matters—But Not Always the Way You Might Think

This week, the sport of horse racing will hold the Preakness, the second leg of its Triple Crown Series. I have covered the Preakness for 30 years. A few years back I had the chance to cover the Belmont. And this year, for the first time, I covered the Kentucky Derby. My own Triple Crown! Seeing each of these events up close, reminds me of how important context is when asked one of the most frequent questions I get regarding … Continue reading

Take Care of Your Voice in Your Presentations

G Sandusky, logo

If you’re like a lot of professionals, you spent much of your career finding your voice. The last thing you can afford is losing it in a presentation. But it happens all the time. It isn’t about having a bad vocal cords or even bad luck. Yes, allergies, illness, colds, and fatigue can have a negative effect. So can dehydration. The single biggest reason, however, that professionals lose their voice in presentations and in meetings has to do with how … Continue reading

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