The Secret to Dynamic Presentations
Yesterday I gave my first keynote presentation since the accident on November 20, 2011. It felt like putting old jeans on.
Successful presenters create dynamic connections between themselves and audiences.
Connect with the past:
Weeks before the presentation, I’d asked several people, “What was the best organizational meeting you attended?” They all replied, “The one when we had Zumba.”
I don’t Zumba! But, I decided we’d do it, anyway. During the presentation, I coaxed three attendees to demonstrate.
They said, “We need music.” I was ready! Instantly, thumping music blasted through the speakers. The whole thing from reluctance to applause took about five minutes.
I’d created a dynamic connection by taking them back to the best presentation they remembered. Connect with people by honoring their past.
Connect with the present:
I connected with their present before I spoke. Several individuals had explained their jobs and what they enjoyed about work. The Director sent documents helping me grasp their mission and vision. She included agendas and feedback from previous open meetings (with names removed).
The audience smiled while I told them who they were, from an outsider’s view point. Connect with people by honoring their present, without improvements or corrections.
Connect with hope:
I lifted them by explaining they were all leaders, already. I gave them hope by sharing simple tools that powerfully enhance leadership. For example:
- Getting unstuck requires two things: a goal and the next step.
- Perfection kills progress.
- Leverage strengths more – fix weaknesses less.
- Believe in others more than they believe in themselves.
- “What’s next?” is the most powerful question leaders ask.
I’m not sure everyone felt this, but on my way out I heard someone say, “That was better than Zumba.”
- Be yourself, don’t fake it.
- It’s all about the audience, not you.
- PowerPoint is best used for images not text.
Send me a note if you’d like to discuss a Leadership Freak presentation for your organization. Contact page.
How can presenters create connections with an audience?
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Dan you never fail to give the best advise and inspiration. I do not comment often but I do read all of it and take it to heart. Helps me allot. Thank you. This was great!
Thanks be to God, you are back on the stage again.
Thanks Linda. I believe encouraging people is one of the finest things we do!
I like the way you connected with the audience and made it fun. I’m all about people having fun. We forget sometimes that’s why we’re here.
The stories are what makes a great presentation. There are some slides where you have bullet points about a model of some sort. I agree pictures are best. The brain enjoys visuals.
Glad to see you’re on stage again!
Thanks for the good word Steve.
This morning while writing this post I thought about those “serious” audiences that need someone to lighten things up.
I agree that stories make great presentations. We connect with stories. Great point.
Best to you,
Great stuff! Wish I was there.
Your simple tools that ‘powerfully enhance leadership’ I already knew, but you’ve packaged them in a way that I’m sure made for a great presentation.
The good ones usually do that; when people can really relate to the material they usually say, “yeah, that’s true.”
Congratulations on your recovery and renewed success.
As a speaker I like telling people what they know in ways that make them think again. There’s enough comfortable stuff mixed in with new that possibilities emerge.
Of course its great to offer a few innovative or new ideas to get the juices flowing. But trying too hard to sound smart or creative makes us lose audiences, every time.
Thanks for your contribution. You are right on.
Congratulations on your “comeback”! I bet you and your audience are equally glad to be back 🙂 I love how the “fun” stuff that we embed in our presentations puts us all on the same playing field. When everyone in the room can connect on something neutral…the professional dialogue later, comes more freely and naturally. I love your numbered lists today. I’ve gotta get out of the perfectionism 🙂 ugh.
One of my favourite thing about presentation day is…preparing. This was one of my posts when I was poking fun at myself. Lol.
Thank you for being an encourager.
I hadn’t thought about fun being a leveler…so true! Powerful insight. Laughing makes us equals. Maybe that’s why leaders who are full of themselves seldom laugh. OUCH
It’s probably etymologically weak, but I like to make a connection between “human,” “humor,” and “humility.” When we are aware of our humanness, we have humility, which makes us able to laugh at ourselves. They may all come from a Latin root for “earth,” which reminds us of our common ground.
And then again, they might not. But I’m making up that they do, because it’s a useful way for me to remember not to get too big for my britches.
love your etymology! 🙂
Glad you’re back in the saddle. Although I’ve only followed for a few months, I can tell you have a passion for what you do. It comes across in your words and in the relationship you build through your disciples. Great advice on public speaking. If it’s not fun for the speaker, it certainly won’t be fun for the audience. And life is much too short not to enjoy it thoroughly in everything we do.
Thanks for the tidbits.
Thanks for stopping in today. Great seeing you again.
I keep telling myself to calm down but it hasn’t worked yet. 🙂
Truth: we can’t expect those around us to have fun if we aren’t!
I agree with you presenters can create connection with audience with understanding them. The first part is to know them, then connect them with their purpose connecting their past. But it is one side of the progress. The perhaps more important is to show them path of better success with is more meaningful and right. People present text more than image in power point presentation. And that is why it becomes powerless presentation. I believe presenters should know their audience first. Without knowing audience and their need, it becomes difficult to connect them. The second step is to know their expectation from the presentation. I also believe that presenters should appreciate, encourage and inspire their past effort and future goals, but not criticize. This is the key and it works. I agree that being authentic creates trust and reliability in presentation. Presenters should respect audience even for sitting idle.
I enjoy how you say … show the way to better success. Very clear and concise.
Regarding expectations, I always ask people to explain how they want people to feel after the presentation. “What do you want them to remember or talk about after it’s all over?”
Thank you for joining the conversation,
I’ve been attempting to educate folks that PowerPoint is not a word processor for years…
When speakers rely on PowerPoint, I feel like saying, “I can read.” Just email the presentation you aren’t necessary. 🙂
Dan – your post should be read by all who need to prepare and deliver a memorable and actionable presentation to a larger group. I have been there and love all your advice. I will pass this post along to folks I know so they can learn from your experience.
All the best – Michael (WeMoveTogether)
Thanks for an encouraging and affirming comment.
Glad you are back with your presentations. I can only begin to imagine how powerful it must be to “see” and “hear” you speak when there is so much to glean just from your writing. I applaud your recovery and feel jealous of all those folks that witnessed first hand your lucid, succinct and inspiring thoughts. I look forward every morning to reading your posts. There is a lesson in every one. Peace………
You know how to lift a guy. I look forward to your comments too!
Great post! I really liked the bonus tips at the end. It’s interesting how 1 and 2 can effect each other and it’s something I’ve really needed to pay attention to. You focus time and energy on being yourself and presenting a unique brand that sometimes it results in too much focus on you versus the audience. You’re absolutely right! It’s not about us… it’s all about them!
YOu bring up an important tension. Get comfortable with yourself so that you can forget yourself. 🙂
This is coincidence, because I had to give my first live presentation today at Full Sail University on Leadership in the Music Industry. We had to give our presentation in the style of the Pecha Kucha Video Presentation. It’s the 20 slides, 20 sections per slide (6 min 40 secs) to get your point across or get off the stage. It was actually pretty fun.
I’ve spoken at plenty of places over the years. I’ve been known to talk for long periods. This was a fun presentation which taught me to learn how to shorting my presentation into shorter points. I enjoyed it. Thanks for the insight!
Sorry I meant to say 20 SECONDS per slide. 🙂
Thanks for your comment Ricardo.
The 20 second rule helps us overcome filling slides with words. One word is better than many… and pictures are better than words.
Glad you enjoyed your presentation… I think it’s easier to speak longer … brevity takes real work.
I know what you mean. It was definitely a challenge for me. The hardest part was we were not allowed to look at the screen of our presentation. It took me two weeks to get an outline kind of script memorized enough to where I could keep it under 6 min & 40 seconds. I think I finish two seconds after the slides stopped.
But overall I am satisfied in what was accomplished though I might not personally do another PK, I will practice keeping my presentations and podcasts under 20 mins. Attention span of some of the Millennials are getting much shorter with the passing of generations.
Thanks for your time!
You shared another gem, Richardo.
Don’t look back at the screen. Keep facing forward. Also, if possible…stand close to one side of the screen.
Here’s another tip. Turn the screen black when you’re ready to make a key point. All eyes will immediately turn to you…give’em the point … pow!
It must have felt great to be back, I was in a car accident on November 5! I agree about PowerPoint as a presentation tool. I also think it was wise how you connected with the audience about Zumba then brought them right into the presentation. Excellent suggestions and congratulations on getting back into the saddle, so to speak.
I hope you have recovered from your accident and are back to “normal.”
thanks for the good word.
Good to hear you’re back on your feet. I agree with your points on the use of powerpoint and researching your audience. In the military th expression “death by viewfoil” existed before there were computers, but the jest of it is still valid.
I’v got one addition. Unless you are a great comedian always refuse, deny, decline, disallow, turn down, misfire, pass up, back out, miss, say nay, back out of, rebuff to speak after lunch.
Correction; even if you are Bill Cosby the rule applies.
Great point on after lunch.
The presentation I refer to in this post was at 1 p.m. — right after lunch. If you are on point, interactive, and ready to have fun… you might as well shoot yourself in the foot and go home. It’s a big challenge.
Don’t forget the after dinner speech either. Although, after dinner is usually shorter.
A very good morning to you. Or is it late night ;-).
Dinner speeches. Even worse. Allthough official dinners in the US I’ve partaken in often didn’t take more than an hour with everything except the entree allready on the table, it’s stiil a challenge to speak after one. Here in Europe these functions may take up more than 3 hours and 5 courses, all served . If you have to speak do it after the starter or forget it.
Tip: if you have to speak after lunch, than make it interactive by doing some polls and have people stand up or sit down to vote. Allways good for a laugh.
Great tip on standing up and sitting down… smart!
BTW, we eat too fast. 🙂
Good to learn on your coming back with full vigor to give good presentations. Wish you a full speedy recovery!
While appreciating your vie-point of knowing the audience in advance and bringing their involvement through close interactions, story telling and adding fun element are the usual mix a good presenter always try. More than that I emphasize on thorough preparations which takes away the larger chunk of your time. One may require 3 days time to prepare a good presentation of 3-hours! I liked the idea of adding some visuals/images over & above the bullet point text matter.
It’s how you explain each point matters a lot with right good examples from their industry or background in which they normally operate. I don’t endorse the idea of adding too much of fun since otherwise you may loose your track with a casual atmosphere that one tries to become more popoular.
I stronly feel that it should be a power-packed presentation with a real good stuff but of a mesmerizing type.
Dear Dr. Asher,
You English Vocabulary is quite good. I love the expression “vigor.”
One thing I take from your comment is, “Content is King.” We better have something to say.
Thank you for adding to the conversation.
This post is one of my favorites. I’m cheering.
Thanks Dauna. A good word is a thing of beauty. Best, Dan
Dan, as already expressed, good to have you “back on stage.” Your comments are right on. Connecting is key. Stories are powerful. Their stories, even more powerful.
I have a presentation coming up…thanks for the inspiration and tips.
And thanks for being a regular contributor.
Best with your presentation.
Sorry to ask this question … what was your presentation about?
It was titled “Fresh Fuel for Dry Tanks.” Several points were covered but part of my life message is about strategies for getting unstuck. I spent too much time in my life working too hard and not getting what I wanted. I shared some strategies that have worked for me.
Thanks for asking.
Presenters can always connect with an audience by getting to know the audience and offering something personal about themselves first.
I like to play a game called “snowballs” in small groups (20-30 or less). Everyone writes on a sheet of paper one thing about themselves that nobody else in the room would know just by looking at them. When they’re done writing, I ask them to stand so I know who’s finished (and this encourages everyone else to hurry). When everyone’s standing I tell them to ball up their paper and toss it across the room. Once everyone has a “snowball”, we toss them again for good measure. 🙂 Then, we sit and one by one we open the balled up paper and read aloud trying to guess who wrote it.
I love that you incorporated Zumba in to your presentation! Our company sponsored me in a Zumbathon yesterday for Relay for Life. Two and a half hours of Zumba! It was great fun for an awesome cause! I do the Zumba dvds at home, but this was my first experience with a live instructor. I’d like to encourage you to check out a class! 🙂
Thank you for another inspiring post!
Live this activity. I’ll use it at a workshop in May!
One of the ice breakers I use in my
Workshops is similar to SNOWBALL. It’s called TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE. On an index card have each person write 2 truths about themselves, and then write a lie. This works best when the audience has worked together a before (e.g. A staff, a department, a project or task force team, etc). Each member shares their 3 facts, and the group has to guess which one is the lie. If it is a larger group, you might have the sharing take place in smaller groups, or at tables they might be sitting at together.
It really gets the dialogue and giggles going because it can be a challenge to decipher which item is the lie. Everyone learns a lot about each other.
Thanks for sharing another practical tool for connecting.
Oh, I’ll have to use your activity, too! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for contributing and thanks for a cool idea… the snow ball idea. Love it.
You have my best,
You are very welcome! Snowballs is one of my favorite ice breakers I learned in college from Dr. Alexa North!
Alright Dan! Before you go to this link, crank up your audio…
Glad to hear you are back at it…excellent point about Powerpoint, less words, more graphics…and never 6+ bullet points!
You crack me up! Thanks for a great laugh.
Hey Doc, personally I picture Dan more of the Arnie type “I’ll be back,” and yes he is most definitely back and there will never be any “termination! 🙂
Thanks Al! I’ll try to be a “nice” Arnie. 🙂 You know, the one that came back to help vs. the one that came back to terminate.
Agreed! Your powerpoint images were great 🙂 I really enjoyed your presentation. Thank you for doing what you do!
Thanks Carrie, It was great being with you all! Dan