Always ready to improve my presentation skills, I recently read this: “7 Lessons From the World’s Most Captivating Presenters” and I would like to share my thoughts on this “expert” advice.
You might say I’m an old hand at presenting – I’ve been an old-fashioned face-to-face on-the-road sales guy for my entire career and I have worked for dozens of companies. I give three or four sales presentations a week. (Frankly, the product is not that great and my strategy is to present to as many prospects as I can to find the customer who “gets it.”)
So, I think I know something about presenting and my reaction to this article should be worth reading.
First, why all this attention on Steve Jobs? If I had millions to spend on writers, designers and equipment, I could give pretty flashy presentations, too. So, let’s get real.
Next, what about this?
Thirty slides in 60 minutes? I present at least 70 very detailed slides for my presentations and they last much longer than an hour. My bosses expect a thorough job and I need to cover a lot of details. And, usually, customers don’t seem to mind. So, again, let’s get real.
And, 30 hours to “craft the story?” I’ve been doing this a long time and, believe me, the story is always the same: who am I and what am I selling. Then I add the stuff the technical people want me to say; this is always a lot of detailed information and I copy and paste a lot of graphs, spreadsheets and diagrams. Also, I have to include the fluff from Marketing. By the way, I find that copying and pasting from the company’s brochures is an easy way to fill slides. (And that’s a real tip from an expert!)
Then 30 hours to “build the slides?” You’ve got to be kidding. Even with my poor typing skills, it doesn’t take that long. And I have hundreds of slides from my previous jobs that are usually a pretty good fit.
And finally, 30 hours of rehearsing? Come on. I give live presentations constantly in real situations so I know what I’m doing. Although I do admit that for a new or updated presentation, I go over it on the plane on the way to the meeting. Also, I have occasionally given the sales presentation to our own team as an exercise. And since this audience already knows the material, this is a pretty good “rehearsal.”
Then there’s “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I think this is probably true in a lot of situations; after all, those Chinese are pretty smart. But it doesn’t seem to work that well in my world. For a while, I did use some pretty funny clip art and a picture of my dog to try to “break the ice” but it didn’t seem to go over very well. At least, my boss didn’t like it. Plus, I don’t have time to search for good pictures and they’re pretty expensive. Besides, isn’t that a job for Marketing?
Finally, I want to say something about this “emotion” thing. I guess it’s all right for some kind of motivational speech but my customers are hard-headed business men looking for a way to beat the other guy and keep their jobs. Emotion doesn’t have anything to do with it. Plus, I feel a little uneasy in this area and I think my audiences do too.
Well, I’ll probably have more to say about this later. Right now I have to catch a plane (Cedar Rapids tomorrow). Damn quota.
(If you liked this post, you might enjoy Why PowerPoint is Brilliant!)