Let’s drop old PowerPoint habits and make our coming-out as presenters. This blog posts reflects the inspiring book “The naked presenter. Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides.” from Garr Reynolds.

less is more

I have struggled a lot with presentations I have listened to and I often left meeting rooms with a frustrated feeling of “again a missed opportunity of real engagement and exchange.” Most inputs were and still are based on PowerPoint.

More and more I am convinced that the format is blocking the way to deliver an inspiring presentation. Some argue that PowerPoint is helpful for structuring a presentation. I prefer the Post-it notes approach described by Nancy Duarte focusing on the messages and stories I want to bring across.

And there are other ways of delivering inputs. Think about interviews, whiteboard or flip chart talks, fish bowl discussions, market place presentations etc.

Until I read The naked presenter from Garr Reynolds, I got what I was looking for: Presentations with passion that inspire!

Here are some key lessons I take from this reading:

Connect to your audience

“You need to know your audience as best as you can. This requires a good deal of empathy and ability to put yourself in their shoes.

  • Connecting to your audience starts with the preparation of the presentation. As presenters we think content while actually we better think the other way round: Picture first the audience: Who is joining, what do they know, what can they add? And then start to ask ourselves: What can I add to gain their attention and to inspire them?

Start not from what you know,
but form where the audience is.

  • While we present try connecting matters all along. We create an atmosphere that connects, wakes up the room and creates attention. Connecting means stimulating curiosity. It means to involve the audience and to make them part of the talk by asking questions, by taking a poll, by interrupting our talk and screening a 2’ video, by giving time to reflect – individually or with the neighbor sitting next to them.

Know your messages

Identify your core point (…) that one thing you want the people to remember more than anything else.

  • Content-wise we are experts. So we know what we want to bring across and why; we know our key messages and could tell them anytime to anyone in a convincing and inspiring way.
  • Content-wise we are experts and therefore we know “less is more”. We don’t want to overburden the audience with what we know. We rather deliver as much content that the audience can absorb and leaves them with a feeling to want to know more. Less is always more when we present.

We want the audience to be changed;
if even only a tiny bit.

Touch your audience

Content alone is never sufficient. We need an emotional connection with the audience to have an impact.

  • Content is not enough we need to touch people by stories, by being ourselves and fully present (and a bit naked as Reynolds describes it). We engage with passion and make our talk a memorable experience so that our key messages stick.
  • What became clear for me: Presenting is being first of all the presenter.
  • And yes the slides. There might be some great slides that enforce our messages (“I want to show you something…”), but they are not the centre of your presentation. Basically we have to drop old PowerPoint habits and make our coming-out as presenter.

There are no longer any excuses for torturing
your audiences and coworkers with mind-numbing
death-by-PowerPoint presentations or dull,dispassionate
speeches because you don’t know another way.
The examples of people who present differently
and effectively and naked are everywhere

I do not want to see any presentations anymore – I want to see presenters.

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