Why Typography Matters
Type That Persuades
Places To Purchase Fonts
The Type Directors Club – promoting excellence in typography
Fonts & Logos by Donald Young
In Progress by Jessica Hische
Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekermann
A Type Detective Story by Matthew Woodman
Within a monarchy, it’s essential to know your role. The same is true for great PowerPoint style slide presentations. Your effectiveness as a presenter will increase royally by understanding the purpose and relationship of 3 key roles: Audience, Presenter, and the Presentation.
Your Audience is King
The only reason your presentation exists is to serve the King (your audience). Too many presentations fail because they are all about the presenter. When this happens, the King will demand your head. A great way to keep your head is to check your ratio of I/we to you. Use the word “you” at least three times as much as the words “I” or “we.”
As you develop the content of your presentation, keep asking yourself, “how does this serve my King?” This will be your filter for deciding what gets included in your presentation.
Your audience is a dubious King who wants to know why he should listen to you. To establish credibility, have someone else introduce you prior to going on “stage.” You must also be likable. Showing authenticity and vulnerability through personal story or self-deprecating humor is effective. The dubious King must then be persuaded why he should adopt your point of view. A combination of logical and emotional argument is best. Once the King likes you, decides to adopt your point view, then you must define the next action for the King to take.
The Presenter is the Star
As the presenter, you are the Star hired to entertain, inform, or persuade the King. The King has come to see you, not your slides. Presenters often make the mistake of thinking their slides are the star. Don’t hide behind your slides believing they will perform for you. If, in your presentation, you simply read your slides, then do everyone a favor by canceling the presentation and send them a PDF. Think of your slides as scenery that supports your performance.
The Star deserves a spotlight. Presenters often make the mistake of turning off the lights to make their slides look better. Remember, you are the Star, not your slides, so make sure you are well lit. This will keep the audience awake and allow them to connect with you. Today’s projectors are powerful enough to project your slides, even in a well lit room.
You need to put on a show. All business is show business. You can still be authentic, but think of your delivery as a heightened version of you. Ramping up your enthusiasm, vocal variety, storytelling, dramatic effect is expected of you. This takes practice and knowledge. If you need help in this area (I certainly did), then I recommend joining a Toastmasters Club. It’s a fun, safe and engaging way to elevate your charisma in front of an audience.
Your Presentation is a Present
As the Star, you are giving a present-ation to the King. The King doesn’t like to be confused. So it must be incredibly clear why you are giving this present, what this present is, how it will benefit Your Majesty, and what the King is supposed to do next with your present.
First, decide what the purpose of your presentation is. As Simon Sinek suggests in his famous TED Talk, start with why. Why are you giving this presentation? Is it to inform, entertain, or persuade? What is your topic? Then develop your unique point of view on that topic, a thesis that will run throughout your presentation.
Stephen Covey’s “Begin With The End in Mind” is a great way to develop presentation content. Consider at least 3 benefits the audience will receive if they adopt your thesis. Once they’ve adopted your thesis, decide what you want your audience to do next. A call to action is a powerful way to end a presentation.
A Star Performer brings a present to the King. This sounds like an intro to a joke. But, if you’ve been there, standing in front of your audience about to begin, you want to be taken seriously. To help you succeed, remember the roles. You are the Star, gifting your presentation (a present), to the King (your audience). Do this, and the crown will become yours.
As marketers, we are required to be persuasive. Externally, our primary job is to persuade prospective clients to hire our firm. Internally, we have to persuade our Principals, or CFO, to endorse and fund our marketing plans. Presenting with slides, using PowerPoint or Keynote, can be an incredibly powerful way to make an emotional connection with your audience. Therefore, this is a skill that all marketing professionals should possess. But very few of us have received any training in how to develop, design and deliver a persuasive slide presentation. For the next several blog posts, I will share my expertise as a professional speaker and graphic designer to provide you with simple, timeless tips to help you deliver slide presentations like a pro.
Why Should You Develop this Skill?
To be perceived as a leader in your firm, you must be able to present your ideas clearly and persuasively. There is a direct link between leadership and presentation skills. In fact, Toastmasters International, the worldwide organization previously known for developing public speaking skills, has just rebranded with the tagline “Where Leaders Are Made.” Having the ability to present well will not only gain you the respect of your firm’s Principals, but will also serve you well in persuading your entire firm to embrace your marketing plan. Outside your firm, this skill will enable you to present at industry conferences and raise your value to firms looking to recruit you.
Most PowerPoint presentations are dreadful. You’ve probably heard the term “Death by PowerPoint” or perhaps you’ve read “Really Bad PowerPoint” by Seth Godin. Powerpoint is almost universally hated because most presenters develop, design and deliver slides that do not engage their audience. I’m sure you’ve suffered through a presenter turning his back on the audience to read 15 bullet points. Don’t blame the presenter, blame his education. With plenty of classes in Literature, English, and Writing, you were well educated in verbal communication. Unless you attended art or design school, you didn’t receive an education in visual communication. Yet PowerPoint forces people communicate visually. So, what do presenters do? They revert to what they know (verbal communication) by placing a bunch of bullet points on a slide. This is the quickest way to lose the attention of your audience.
A Great Presentation is a 3 Legged Stool
The 3 legs to your presentation are Development, Design and Delivery. Remove one of these legs and your presentation will end up on its rear! You’ll want to begin with the development of your content. Consider why you are making this presentation, who is the audience, and what do you want them to do. Start to outline your main points and gather evidence, stories and imagery to support those points. Next, you’ll want to design simple, clear slides that support you and your message. I recommend including 1 message per slide. Finally, you’ll need to practice your delivery so that you are confident in front of your audience. Remember that you are the star, not the slides. If the slides can live on their own, then cancel the presentation and send the audience a PDF.
Slide Presentations Like a Pro: Roles
What Do You Think?
Do you have a favorite TED Talk that effectively uses slides?
Do you have a PowerPoint horror story?
What tips can you share for creating slide presentations?
If you want to see the principles mentioned in this post in action, purchase a DVD or Online Download of Change the World Slide by Slide: How To Design & Deliver Professional Slide Presentations.
How to Give The King’s Speech: Lessons Learned From the Oscar Winning Film
Using Public Speaking To Attract Clients
If you haven’t seen the Oscar winning Best Picture The King’s Speech, make it a priority. Here’s my plot summary: Prince Albert, known as “Bertie,” reluctantly ascends to the throne of Great Britain to become King George VI. Bertie’s speech therapist, Lionel Logue, helps the monarch overcome chronic stuttering to deliver a speech that changed the world.
This film offers so many great lessons but I will focus on those that will make you a better presenter.
Embrace The New Communication Medium
About living in a new era of global radio, Bertie states, “a king can no longer get by in life solely by looking good in a regal uniform and knowing how to battle while riding a horse.” The equivalent is true for the modern Principal or Marketing Director. We can’t get by with simply a nice headshot and bio on our website. Prospective clients want to know how we think and what we believe. Presentation Interviews and Web Video are both great ways to demonstrate this.
A Great Presenter is a Great Leader
The King must capture the confidence of the British people if they are to rally against Nazi Germany. The king’s speech, thus the title of the film, is what inspires the nation to enter World War II. Being a great presenter communicates that you are to be trusted and that you are great at what you do. In an interview, prospective clients judge your technical ability based on what’s in front of them, which are your presentation skills.
Ask for Help
You may not be a presentation expert, but you can hire one. A coach can provide objective feedback, help you develop content and provide accountability for your team to practice delivery. Whether you are an athlete, an executive, or the King of England, nobody achieves greatness without guidance.
Like Lionel Logue, LecoursDesign now offers executive coaching and group training for presentations and speaking. This complements our ability to design stunning slide decks. From verbal to visual, we’ve got you covered.
Presenting is a Learned Habit
There is a common misconception that great speakers and presenters are born, not made. The arc of improvement that Bertie demonstrates throughout the film exemplifies that Presenting is a learned habit. You can learn to be great. Either hire a private coach or attend a local Toastmasters meeting to improve your skills.
You Have a Voice
At a pivotal point in the movie, Lionel Logue asks a frustrated Bertie “why should I waste my time listening to you?” Bertie screams back, “Because I have a voice!” We all have a unique voice””a distinct point of view that only we can own. The challenge is to develop the confidence to communicate our voice with such enthusiasm that our clients believe that our voice/vision will solve their problem.
Distract Your Fear
In Bertie’s first coaching session, Lionel uses music to distract Bertie from how he sounds which gets him to focus on his story. Bertie is passionate about his story and you are passionate about yours. As Lady Bird Johnson said, “Become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” It’s ok to be nervous or scared when you present. Harness that energy as passion for your subject and it will infect your audience (in a good way).
Use Technology to Help You Improve
There is a point in the movie when Lionel records Bertie speaking into a gramophone and gives him the recording. The effect of listening to his own voice is incredibly therapeutic. It can be beneficial for you too. It is impossible to objectively analyze our own speaking voice in the moment. So use the voice memo function on your smart phone, or even better, video record yourself speaking to listen (and see) where you need improvement.
Whether you have weak presentation skills or not, we all have obstacles in our path to greatness. Be as courageous as Bertie in facing those shortcomings, and who knows, you may just change the world.
There are so many other great lessons from the film. What did you take away?
I have yet to find a better way to attract great clients than positioning myself as an expert within the AEC Industry. The two best ways to demonstrate expertise are speaking and writing. With speaking, you can make a deeper connection because your audience can see and hear your thinking in real time. This is akin to the increased emotional impact of seeing your favorite band in concert versus simply reading their lyrics.
Speaking is harder than writing so fewer people travel this path. This is an opportunity for you to stand out. I empathize that standing alone on stage may freak you out. I still get nervous every time I speak. It’s a primal fear hard wired into our collective consciousness. We relate standing alone on a podium with hundreds of eyes looking at us to standing alone on the savannah with saber tooth tigers eyeing us for their next meal. To shield you from harm, I’ve outlined how to get started, what to speak about and where to speak. Develop this skill of public speaking and you will attract clients that value your brilliance.
How To Get Started
Speaking is a learned skill. In the eight years I’ve been involved with Toastmasters, I’ve consistently seen guests attend their first meeting and sheepishly stand up to say their name while staring at their toes. Within a few months, the very same people are delivering 5″“7 minute speeches to great applause.
Find and join a Toastmasters club. I’m a member of two clubs. There is no better return on investment for your career. You’ll improve your speaking, listening, self-esteem and leadership skills in a fun and supportive environment. I recommend visiting a few clubs in your area to “date before you marry.” Each club has it’s own culture and traditions.
What To Speak About
As an excuse to avoid speaking, I frequently hear people say “I don’t have material that people want to hear” or “don’t I need to be a book author or PhD to be a speaker?” Nonsense. We all underestimate how much expertise we already have. You can speak about a problem that you recently solved for a client. If you want to get fancy, call this a case study. Speak about patterns or trends in your client’s industry. Then take a step further and offer some suggestions on how to respond to these trends. Give a “how-to” speech on something you know clients are struggling with. You could also create a humorous speech about common mistakes that clients make when working with a firm like yours.
Where To Speak
You are not going to be invited to speak at the TED Conference right away. But there are many venues to practice your craft. Speaking is like a muscle that you need to exercise regularly. Find as much stage time as you can. I’ve spoken at talent shows, conferences, luncheons, breakfast meetings, weddings and funerals. A great place to start is on a panel. Not all eyes are on you and you can distribute the workload among the other panelists. Good panels feel like a candid conversation (with the audience listening in).
People don’t buy your services, they buy what you believe. Speaking works as a marketing tool because it is an opportunity for you to share what you believe in a non-sales environment. People don’t like to be sold to. So use speaking as a tool to build trust with your audience, and then enjoy potential clients handing you their business card.
For those looking to stretch their marketing budget, I can’t think of a more cost effective way to attract clients than Thought Leadership. The more a prospect can experience your thinking, writing or speaking, the more they perceive you as an expert, and the less “selling” you have to do. Content Marketing is effective for Thought Leaders because prospective clients can get to know, like and trust them in a no pressure, non-sales context. Here are some tips on how to position yourself, or Principals within your firm, as Thought Leaders.
1. Designate Ambassadors
Designate someone in your firm to be the Thought Leader for each market sector in which you seek work. For example, our client Aquatic Design Group is a market leader in designing and engineering competitive swimming pools (a market sector). They happen to have an Associate who is a former collegiate All-American swimmer. Combined with strong writing and speaking skills, he has instant credibility within this tribe.
2. Discover Where Your Audience Gathers
Ask your best clients which market specific trade publications they read and which conferences they attend. Then introduce yourself to the editors of these journals and offer your Thought Leader as a resource for journalists. Journalists constantly need credible references to interview for stories. Once the relationship is established, inquire about submitting an article or offering story leads. For national conference speaking opportunities, you’ll need to respond to a RFP a year in advance. But there are plenty of local trade organizations hungry for great speakers. Your Thought Leader doesn’t even need to speak. For example, I have put together panels and have emceed for SMPS, Pecha Kucha and USGBC events. This allows me to benefit from the halo effect of being onstage moderating the speaker panel. While it’s tempting to write or speak to your peers (fellow professional service providers), remember to focus most of your efforts where potential clients, not competitors, congregate.
3. Create a Content Ecosystem
Start with writing to develop mastery in articulating your subject matter. Then move to speaking using content you’ve written about. Give away free samples of your knowledge. Leaders demonstrate confidence by sharing their abundant expertise, not hoarding it. Tell real success stories and don’t be afraid to offer up your failures and share lessons learned. This is what makes you human, and will draw people to you. Communicate that you care about your audience’s world and challenges, and you will be invited in.
Thought Leadership requires an investment of time. This guide should help you get started. Be sure to promote your speaking or writing using the power of Social Media. Also, find multiple channels to distribute your content to maximize ROI. For example, this blog post began as an email marketing letter. It has also been broken down into a series of tweets. It could be made into a short video or podcast. Don’t overlook print to distribute your writing. You can a create a 1-page printout of a relevant post to pass out at events where you attend or present.
Whether writing or speaking, Thought Leaders are perceived as experts. Clients like to hire expertise. What are some methods you have used to demonstrate expertise? How do you promote your Thought Leadership activities? Has it ever led to new business?