President of Speechworks, a selling and communication skills coaching company in Atlanta. He has worked with hundreds of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.” He can be reached at 404-266-0888 or email@example.com
Sometimes I’ll hear a dynamic speaker with fancy slides and think, “Yeah. But she wasn’t as good as Dairy Queen.”
Let me explain.
One year, my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary at Bacchanalia, which, on its website, bills itself as “Atlanta’s most celebrated restaurant featuring contemporary American cuisine.”
For dessert, I had the “Brown Butter Poached Rhubarb Fried Pie” in the “Honey Tangerine Float.” It was also good.
But, to be honest, the dessert wasn’t as good as a vanilla cone dipped in chocolate at the Dairy Queen.
No Gourmet Dessert Beats Dairy Queen
You see, I’m of the strong opinion that no matter how much money you spend on gourmet tarts, torts, flans, mousses, or tiramisus, you’re never going to beat the simple satisfaction of Dairy Queen.
That’s because there’s just no improving on Dairy Queen. The vanilla cone dipped in chocolate is, in my opinion, a pure good. No matter how fancy you get, you can’t satisfy me more.
I see presentations the same way. Good presenters do certain things that are simple yet – like a chocolate dipped ice cream cone from Dairy Queen – create an experience for the audience that can’t be surpassed, even by the most dynamic speakers.
What are those simple things? A crisp message. Stories. Conversational style. And most importantly, lots of Q&A. Those things deliver pure engagement. You can’t satisfy your audience more.
Simple Keys to a Great Presentation
I worked with a banker who had to give a presentation on how business owners can make their firms more competitive with well-structured retirement plans.
This banker had been the subject of complaints that his presentations were long and boring.
The first step was to simplify. We trimmed his message to eight slides and 15 minutes.
I asked him, “What are the three things that you really want business owners to remember about retirement plans?”
He decided that a good retirement plan can:
Grow your wealth and allow you to retire.
Position your business for sale by attracting and retaining top employees.
Increase competitiveness by increasing employee engagement.
The next step was to develop his stories. He had many because he had set up many retirement plans.
We also worked on his style. He wasn’t a natural speaker. But with a little coaching, he was speaking with more energy and smiling.
Q&A Drives Full Audience Engagement
The most important key to his success, however, was an instruction that he gave at the beginning of his message. He said, “If you have a question at any time, I want you to interrupt me. Don’t wait. Don’t write it down. I want your questions as soon as they come into your head.”
His audience asked questions from beginning to end. In an email he told me, “I had many questions; in fact the program ran over because there were so many.”
When there are so many questions that you run over, that’s full audience engagement. You can’t do better than that.
It’s just as good as Dairy Queen.
Speechworks is a communication and selling skills coaching firm. We teach professionals how to craft and deliver complex messages in a simple, persuasive manner. Since 1986, through workshops and one-on-one instruction, we have helped countless individuals become better presenters and communicators. You can reach us at 404.266.0888, firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web atwww.speechworks.net
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