Tweak Your Biz » Sales » If You Really Want To Be Great At Presenting, Get Creative!

If You Really Want To Be Great At Presenting, Get Creative!



I attend a lot of talks, conferences and business networking events and dread to think how many presentations I have listened to in my career. To be honest only a fraction ever generated interest due to the poor presentation skills on display. This article is not about presentation skills themselves but just about content, the “what you say?” Rather than “How you say it?” I will also look at what type of media to use.

If You Really Want To Be Great At Presenting, Get Creative!

Using quotations

Too many presentations are littered with recycled and glib company sound bites or quotations from great philosophers of the past. My message to you is this, if you want to stand out from the crowd and impress people then give us original content.

If you want to use quotations then use contemporary not historical ones and also be prepared to use quotations from less well known people. If the quote is good it will resonate with your audience.

The art of storytelling

We have heard a lot in recent years about the lost art of storytelling and there is a resurgence of this skill as it has been proved to be one of the most effective ways of communicating. The parable has once again become an accepted learning media. For example in 2006 John Kotter published “Our Iceberg Is Melting” (A simple fable with profound lessons for working and living in an ever changing world). The book is set amongst the backdrop of a colony of penguins that are faced with an uncertain future.

So here are some top tips for CONTENT in your presentation:

The whole presentation must tell a story and that story can be:

  • About you and your experience
  • A colleague and their experience
  • A contemporary or historical figure
  • A fable that draws analogy to what you want to get across
  • An event in recent or past history
  • A client story or case study

Use pictures to highlight the story:

  • Rather than Powerpoint use laminated pictures that you can hold up (obviously if it is a very large venue you may have to use Powerpoint)
  • Don’t use obvious pictures that people will have seen before, search Google images or better still take your own (if competent and they look great)
  • Where possible use video clips of appropriate content

Practice and get feedback

Whatever you decide to talk about, prepare the content well and practise with an appropriate audience well ahead of the actual talk. Encourage feedback both good and poor and be prepared to adapt accordingly. Don’t just seek presentation ‘style’ feedback, it’s the content you have to get right first, then you can focus on presentation style afterwards.

When it comes to your presentation content you can sanity check your ideas using the same SMART acronym that we use for coaching and goal setting;

SSpecific: What exactly is the message I want people to take away from the presentation?

MMeasurable: How will I measure the effectiveness of my presentation?

AAttainable: Is it possible to get this message across in this way?

RRelevant: Is my presentation really appropriate for this audience?

TTimed: Can I get my message across effectively with the time I have available?

Well that’s it for now! Do let me know if that was useful – leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Images: ”Attractive young woman presenting abstract speech bubble copy space /Shutterstock.com

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The Author:

Sean McPheat is a bestselling author and MD of international training firm MTD Sales Training, who have delivered training, coaching and consultancy to over 2,500 different organisations and over 50,000 staff from 23 different countries. Sean is regarded as a thought leader on modern day selling, management skills and business improvement, and has been featured on CNN, ITV, BBC, SKY, Forbes, Arena Magazine with over 250 other media credits to his name. Having built MTD Training from a bank balance of zero he’s living proof that with hard work and the right strategy, that anything is possible! http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Sian Phillips

    Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Sean and a great first post. I particularly like the idea of using alternative pictures as I was recently at a presentation and one of the presenters did just that – using a day in the life of via pictures – and it made it far more interesting than others I’ve seen. I look forward to your next post for us.

  • Harry

    Sean – Excellent tips. My recommendation is not to rely too much on PowerPoint, but focus on story telling from your experience instead. Too many people spoil their presentation by putting too much details on PowerPoint slides and just reciting it in front of the audience.

    Watch Steve Jobs presenting at Apple product introductions to learn the art of story telling.

  • Sean_McPheat

    Thanks Sian, I’m looking forward to writing for you again.

  • Sean_McPheat

    Hi Ava, glad you like the post. I always like to add famous quotes and footage of famous speeches into my presentations as this really helps bring it to life.

  • Sean_McPheat

    Couldn’t agree with you more Harry. Your audience can read, the don’t need you to cram the slides full of bullet points and then read it out to them!

  • Catherine Jules

    Indeed! The content of what you present is the most important thing in creating presentation and it needs the creativity of your mind to achieve it. The use of imagination and original idea is very important in doing such thing because it can lead to an artistic work. Yet, it does not need to be very lengthy. Perhaps a precised and accurate content is enough as long as you construct it with sense. In short, SIMPLICITY and CREATIVITY are the keywords in making a successful presentation. Thanks for this reminder, Sean. :)