Do you want to make better presentations to your customers? Do you want to improve your speaking skills?
I like business books that are long on action and short on theory. By that I mean books that give you constructive steps to take that will improve your behavior. The Exceptional Presenter by Tim Koegel does just that. I first read the book in August. Since then I have used the steps he advocates four times. Three of those times were very successful. The fourth was, well let’s say it was successful but boring. It was boring because I failed to follow Tim’s steps.
Tim uses the acronym OPEN UP! to identify six characteristics of exceptional presenters. He says the exceptional presenter is:
Further, as an exceptional presenter, you must:
Understand your audience
Practice (It’s this last one I failed to follow in my fourth presentation.)
The chapter I read and re-read most often is chapter four: Organzied: Structuring Your Story. In it he outlines five steps you should take to prepare your presentation. My recommendation: Write these steps down and refer to them first when preparing a new presentation. That’s as opposed to opening Microsoft Powerpoint and creating bullet slides you’ll only wind up reading aloud. Using these steps not only helped me prepare more effective presentations, knowing the steps worked gave me increased confidence as I delivered them.
The book is a fast read. I read it on an hour and forty-five minute flight between Austin and Denver. That includes the time I spent highlighting the key points.
One quibble. Tim refers to a study done by Professor Albert Mahrabian at UCLA. Like most people, Tim misstates the results of the “55%, 38% 7% study”. Tim, delete that from your next edition. Even Dr. Mahrabian insists it’s been taken our of context.
Other than that I highly recommend this book. I’ll be using the five steps to create a video for staff orientations and to help me design a community on my company’s intranet.
Lagniappe: If you really want to create better presentations or become a more effective speaker, find a Toastmasters club near you and join. In a recent presentation, I used both Tim’s steps and the skills and confidence I gained from Toastmasters to present recommendations to senior management. Specifically, I felt confident enough to be able to modulate my voice (“vocal variety” as Toastmasters know it) and use that to make my presentation even more effective. The presentation was a success. Thank you Tim, and Toastmasters.