Phil Slott This excerpt is taken from a chapter from the new book, Never Let 'Em See You Sweat, A Tranquilizer for Presenters. In his introduction, Phil Slott says, "Here's why I wrote this book. First, I didn't write it to discuss content, and this book doesn't address what you present. This book does address how you present it. What you say is up to you. How you say it is up to you -- and this book. Everybody has to present, but being a great presenter takes a lot more than a Valium."
NEVER BE POINTLESS
"Today we're gong to talk about coupon copy."
"Let's discuss what the Three Wise Men wore when they visited the manger."
"Shakespeare's diet doesn't get all the attention it should."
No, no, and no!
No one wants to hear presentations on these subjects because they're not
Pointlessness, not surprisingly, leads to mumbling, bumbling, fumbling, and
Pointlessness wastes time, money, and effort.
Therefore, it is important to remember that the single most important point
in any presentation is having a point to make.
HAVE A POINT
If you don't have a point to make, don't bother presenting.
Don't bother agonizing over the proposition.
Don't bother rehearsing its execution.
Don't bother with one-on-one research or focus groups.
You can set aside taste tests, road tests, fragrance tests, or in-home use
tests. Don't bother assigning speaking roles, picking a typeface, or choosing
Having a point calms a presenter because having a point makes you an instant
expert. This keeps you safe from hecklers who are generally afraid of experts.
Everybody pays attention to doctors, lawyers, pilots, and architects because
these guys are considered experts. But you don't have to have a graduate
degree or a pilot's license to get the audience's attention. You just have
to have your own key point.
This key point should be made first.
In the opening remarks, use slides, charts, sound effects, or a musical
overture to emphasize the point. That way people know it's the most
important point you are going to make.
That point should also be made last.
In the closing remarks use slides, charts, sound effects, or a musical climax,
so people are sure that's what you want to leave them with.
Make your point first, last, and frequently in between. Indeed, any point
worth making is worth sticking to. So, repeat it, return to it, say the same thing differently, and never leave it.
In other words, be tenacious! Tenacious means focused and single-minded.
Every presentation should be single-minded. Whether the point is made with
slides, film, music, charts, or by the statement of your own wardrobe, stick
to it like glue.
Now that you have a key point, make sure it's tangible, relevant, and simple.
Phil Slott author of Never Let 'Em See You Sweat, A Tranquilizer for Presenters
A tangible point is a nuts-and-bolts point. It's one you can take to the
bank. It's where the rubber meets the road. Decide what tangible goals you want to achieve before you present. If you don't have a reason as tangible as getting promoted, impressing the boss, winning new business, cutting expenses, signing them up, converting them, recruiting them, or organizing the work force, don't present.
One man's meat is another man's poison. What's boring to most people most of
the time is important to some people some of the time.
The correct way to handle a grenade is only relevant if you're a soldier.
Required reading is relevant when you're a student. Avoiding athlete's foot
is particularly relevant for an athlete. Microchip technology is only
relevant if you're in the computer field. The four life-saving steps are
very relevant if you're going to need them because you do dangerous work.
No soldier has to know about flower arranging. No clergyman has to know much
about "Fun City." And very few professors are asked to communicate in street talk.
So, every point can't be relevant to every person, but some point is
someone's stock-in-trade. It's vital to know the difference. That way you'll
always be relevant when it counts.
Can you say it in a single sentence? Can you write it on a matchbook? Can
you make your point in the time it takes a traffic light to change? We all forget complicated directions and tend to remember simple ones. Think of any point you make as a presenter as directions you might be giving at a busy intersection. Think of the audience you present to as drivers who are trying to follow your directions.
All your successful points should be readily understood by the average
person with an average I.Q. Even rocket science, logarithms, and brain
chemistry can be grasped by the average high school graduate if they're
As you will rarely be presenting to doctors, professors, or congressmen, keep
that in mind. Complicated details should be reserved exclusively for an
audience that understands complicated details.
Remember, every great idea to be shared had to begin with a simple
presentation. Some caveman must have presented the wheel to another caveman.
DRIVE IT HOME
Now that you have a point and you know it's good, drive it home, put it in
their faces, and make sure it stays there. If you don't emphasize it, you've
wasted the countless hours it took to get that point.
The only way to emphasize any point is to emphasize it selectively. It needs
to stick out. Like the only rose in the desert. The only clap in an empty
auditorium. Or the only whiff of smoke in the wilderness.
Emphasizing everything is really emphasizing nothing.
If your point is like a rose in a rose garden, a clap in a standing
ovations, or smoke in a forest fire, your point will be lost.
The only point worth emphasizing is your main point, so never lose focus.
Any point you don't emphasize is a minor point, on its way to becoming an
In sum, a presenter should never bore any audience with a trivial
presentation. Remember, you never deserve the audience's attention. You win
it by having a point to make. And you keep their attention by having a good
point to make.
Every successful presentation begins with a good point. Good points are
tangible so they lead to meaningful results you can count on. Good points
are relevant to members of the audience. And good points are simple enough
to be understood by the average person who doesn't have the time or inclination
for a long lecture.
Once you have a good point, it's time to drive it home. Excerpted from Never Let 'Em See You Sweat, A Tranquilizer for Presenters by Phil Slott. Copyright 2000, by Phil Slott, Kamuela, Hawaii. Reprinted with permission of the publisher Ad-Land Press.