If there is one book that every marketer should have in his or her library, it is probably Jerry Weissman’s highly readable book on making winning presentations. Weissman heads a California-based company called Power Presentations, Ltd. and has worked with the likes of Scott Cook, Jeff Raikes, and Tim Koogle to create presentations that wowed their audiences.
Weissman begins by dissecting common presentation techniques and quickly gets to the core of what is wrong with the majority of them. Paraphrasing Don Valentine, a well-known venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, Weissman identifies the root epidemic among presenters: ‘The problem is that nobody knows how to tell a story. And what’s worse, nobody knows that they don’t know how to tell a story!’ Furthermore, according to the author, while many presentations set out to communicate information, facts or features, they are not designed to persuade.
They don’t tell the listener about benefits that are relevant to them and they don’t sign off with a clear and clarion request for action. “The good presenter,” Weissman writes “grabs [listeners’] minds at the beginning of the presentation, navigates them through all the various parts, themes, and ideas, never letting go, and then deposits them at the call for action.” There is a lot of other hard-hitting advice and analysis in this breezy bible of the Powerpoint set.
Here are a few other gems:
On why and how not to overwhelm listeners with text and data in your slides:
‘The inevitable reaction of audiences to a Data Dump is not persuasion, but rather the horrific effect known as MEGO: my Eyes Glaze Over.’ ‘The Secret: The Data Dump must be part of your preparation, not your presentation.’
On how to demonstrate the right benefits to your audience:
‘For people to act on anything, they must have a reason to act, and it must be their reason, not yours.’ ‘Always find and state your WIIFY (What’s in it for you?)’ ‘Make it easy for the audience to follow, and the audience will follow your lead.’ Weissman provides plenty of examples of proven tools and techniques from his own consulting experience.
When describing the importance of the opening gambit – a statement, question or story designed to grab attention at the beginning of the presentation – he discusses some of the more effective ones that he has heard used.
He reveals that his own personal choice for an opening gambit is an analogy – a statement that compares two seemingly unrelated items. In the introduction to the book, the author puts this technique to work for him when he likens a good presenter to a massage therapist – someone who doesn’t let go until their job is done. ‘I hope that got your attention,’ Weissman writes.
‘Presenting to Win’ is different from other books on the topic in that it focuses entirely on the aspect of developing the story. It doesn’t dwell as much on delivery (in the author’s view: ‘When the story is right, the delivery itself tends to fall into place, almost magically so.’) and it is not as preoccupied with the features of the application (although a couple of chapters towards the end do describe certain useful Powerpoint tools).
Instead, it serves up some timeless and spot-on advice that anybody whoever needs to pitch their ideas, companies, services, or products can use: to move their audience from Point A to Point B.