Most of the business books I read come to me as recommendations. This one however was a surprise birthday present from my wife and daughter. I guess having made them sit through so many TED talks online over wet winters evenings, they knew it was something that fascinated me. How come these guys are just so damn good at public speaking?
Starting with show-and-tell sessions in school and certainly over the last 27 years since I started working for myself, I have had cause to speak to groups of people on numerous occasions. My usual defense mechanism when delivering speeches are props. Lots of them. Physical props gave way to PowerPoint slides, but it amounts to the same thing. You watch TED speakers deliver and rarely does a PowerPoint presentation get in the way of the key message the speaker planned to deliver.
Right. That’s the key. As I said, ‘planned’ to deliver. If I don’t prepare and plan my presentation the outcome is always lacking. If, however, I plan too far to the point of scripting what I want to say, that comes over even worse and I don’t even like delivering it. My best presentations are well planned, but never scripted. A bulleted list of what I want to communicate and then delivered with passion.
Well, this short book (just 47 pages) explains some of the reasons this idea works. It will also serve as a check list of what should be in your presentation and what you should take out. The most important lessons of which are as per the title of the book, storytelling. Any included stories need to be personal, that enthrall your audience, take them on a journey, show and deal with conflict, educate and leave them elated with one short repeatable key takeaway.
Having read this book, I now find myself a critic of other people’s presentation styles. Worse still, I see other people present and make the mistakes I did before reading this book. Just imagine wasting the most important 30 seconds talking about the venue, host, weather or your journey.
Next presentation I give will have no introductions. Just straight into a story!