Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why Bother to Wow

In other words, why presenting is so important.

Peggy Noonan says, As more and more businesses become involved in the new media technologies, as we become a nation of fewer widgets and more Web sites, a new premium has been put on the oldest form of communication: the ability to stand out and say what you think in front of others.

Here's what Tom Peter's had to say about it. I've seen several quotes from him about the value and the very critical importance of presentation skills, this one is from his website.

Fact, in "our" more modest worlds: Poor or average or even "okay" presentation skills trip up or hold back an incredible number of very talented people at all levels, including the highest in big orgs—and yet it is rare to see someone launch a martial-arts-training-like, no-bull, I'm-gonna-master-this-or-die-trying offensive on presentation skill improvement.

You've heard people say, and you've probably said it yourself, “It's not what he said, it's how he said it.” Yep, that's the reality. People judge you by your presentations – that's why it's such a feared feat.

Here's an example came from my own life. In March I made a short video clip in which I discussed my research about Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. Now, I've made hundreds of presentations and have been teaching this stuff for years, but I had never been videotaped doing any sort of formal talk.

Now, how hard can it be? I've just spent years researching this man, so I'm really a world expert on the subject. Still, when the bright lights are in your eyes, you're hooked up to a microphone, you're looking into a camera....well, it feels awkward. And looking at the tape afterward, I spoke well on my topic, yet my sense of humor and fun was totally missing. The video presentation was of me, but it wasn't me. I now knew that for the next one, I had to relax even more and even make an effort to be my witty self.

Guy Kawasaki interviews Nancy Duarte:

Duarte's recent book is called slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations.

In this interview, she shares the secret to great PowerPoint's and tells how to avoid some of the most common presentation pitfalls.

Question: Why do most presentations suck?

Answer: Most presentations suck because:

1.The presenter has not given the audience any idea why they are there or what the content means to them; messages are disorganized and there’s no unifying story line.

2. The presenter uses the slides as a document or TelePrompter and reads their slides with his/her back to the audience. This makes the audience feel like the presenter is slow or not very smart.

3. The presenter is not passionate or inspired and has not connected to the audience in a uniquely human way.

See, it's not just me. Making presentations is important enough to warrant a great deal of thought and practice.