Both books focus on something we all need to do a better job on. And that’s making sure that our presentations are always as compelling as possible.
While I like to believe I’m an engaging presenter, I notice a number of poor presentation moves that I tend to make that the authors of both books say must be avoided. My biggest mistake is to build my presentation while I’m also building a slide deck, rather than working on the speaking points of my presentation first. While I like to think of them as evolving together, I trust the advice of both books; what we share is much more compelling when the words are the presentation, rather than the slide deck.
I also have to work harder towards letting every presentation be a story. I’ve had some success here, but too often the stories that my presentations share aren’t always compelling throughout. In fact, some parts of the presentation are a story and others aren’t. This confuses those who are in the audience, and it also fades interest; in a perfect world I want everyone in the audience to be on the edge of their seat, rather than wishing they were on the edge.
Both of these two changes are technically easy to address. In both cases, the switch starts with focusing on the narrative. In order to present a story, I first need to be able to tell one. And to do that, I have to focus on the words themselves. The authors of Weekend Language quote Mehrabian’s seminal study finding that roughly 93% of what we engage in during a presentation or speech has nothing to do with the words themselves. And yet, those 7% are lead-ins to the other 93. In other words, if we get the words right, then the rest will be solid. So, rather than focus on the 93% to start, we have to focus on the power of the story, the power of the words themselves.
I enjoy presenting, and want those presentations to be ever more powerful. So, I’ve got a lot of work to do if I’m going to make my presentations as meaningful as possible.