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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: presentation

4 tips on how to make a good presentation – or at least make it suck less.


Oratium’s Tamsen Webster presenting at Hubspot.

If you follow my blog or social media feeds, then you know I have a low tolerance for bad meetings and presentations.

But I think bad presentations are the worst. They are probably the most evil way to kill your co-workers and clients.

Why are they worse than bad meetings?

Because with a meeting, I can always chime in – try and move it the way I want it to go – or at least I can engage.

But with a presentation, I’m a hostage. Many times I’m staring down a 70-page fully loaded deck with bulleted 12-point fonts, unreadable charts, nasty clip-art and cartoon transitions.

I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I can try and sneak a peek at my phone or act like I’m taking notes on my laptop while I’m really checking Instagram, Facebook or email. But I can’t escape the stock photos of business hurdles and diversity handshakes. My eyes….my eyes!!!

So last week I traveled to Boston to check out the team from Oratium, Tamsen Webster and Jonathan Dietrich, Presentation Training.

They promised me that I would look at presentations differently. That I would have, as Tamsen so eloquently put it,  “a framework to work within” for my future presentations.

Let me tell you. I was skeptical.

I’ve been presenting in front of crowds since 2006 – I’ve read a lot of books and have done my fair amount of research on how to give good presentations. I’ve gotten great reviews – in fact, I pride myself on the ratings and the comments. I even get laughs, which always surprises my wife. Guess I’m not too funny at home.

But then Tamsen and JD showed me a real presentation framework, broken down into easy steps that would help me make my presentations so much better.

Now I can’t give you all the details. Sorry.

Come on, it’s their intellectual property and they’ve made a good business of helping companies and their salespeople get much better at this.

What I can give you is some of the framework and a place to start along with Tamsen and JD’s contact info so you can get in touch if you want. I highly recommend it especially if you have salesforce that needs to be selling a whole lot more.

Their big idea was pretty simple.

Presentations should “powerfully land a small number of big ideas.”

Let me say that again because this is usually the opposite of many presentations I see (and have made).


Such a great way to think about your presentations.


Oratium handouts you get with the training.

So what tips can I pass along on how to do this with your presentations:

1. Stop being you-centric and be audience-centric.

Cut out the crappy, bulleted “my company” slides or the “who I am” slides (I’m guilty of this and it stops today) at the front of your deck. If you really want to get the audience’s attention – start with their problem as quickly as possible.

But, Don, they won’t know who we are and we need to be credible. We debated this, too.

First, you are in the room so you must be credible to someone to get there.

Second, they aren’t going to care about anything you say – they are focused on them and not you. You want them to pay attention to you then talk about them and their problems. You can work your who we are into the back of the deck when you are presenting the solution.

I know this sounds like commons sense but I’ve seriously used the same presentation in front of one audience and then turned around and used it on another without changing much but the opening slide.

Because my slides were about me – not them.

2. Have a clearly defined ACTION that you want the audience to take at the end of the presentation.

This is how you measure whether you are being effective or not.

This made me laugh.

I’ve defined my measurement in the comments I received after or the fact that audience members would come up and want me to speak at another event.

But did that solve the audience’s problem (which I don’t even know if I really defined well) and did it help my company’s goals (in a vague way – maybe).

Let me tell you that their pyramid system to help you define the action is worth the investment.

3. If you are going to get the audience to take an action, then they must “believe” something different than what they currently do.

Another tip that hit me like an ACME safe. JD repeated this statement a couple of times to get it to really sink in.

“The audience will think differently about you if they first think differently about themselves.”

I never thought that the only way I could get an audience to believe in me is to first get them to think differently about themselves.

Of course I thought that the audience trusted me – look how awesome, smart, interesting, passionate, prepared (sometimes) I am – BTW, those are the examples we came up in class of what we tell ourselves about how our audience feels about us.

What a crock. We have no empirical evidence that our audience thinks this but we do know with lots of evidence that they are thinking about themselves a lot. Just like you are doing right now.

Until I focus completely on them, their problems, and lead them to a solution that they can visualize and own – they aren’t going to think too highly of me.

Did I tell you that Tamsen and JD didn’t pull any punches on us? It was some serious tough love I needed to hear.

4. To get people to believe something different, then you need to give them the knowledge to back it up.

This is your data and illustrations. But you can’t beat them over the head with facts and figures. You must deliver the knowledge in a way to have emotional pull – you need to appeal to both sides of the brain because people make decisions irrationally (right side of the brain) then justify the decision rationally (left side of the brain).

If you’ve never read “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely, I totally recommend it. Great book and backs up this line of thinking on why people do what they do.

Now these are just four tips from an all-day workshop – I wish I could give you more but I promised I wouldn’t in a public way.

The framework they gave us, the online tools I can start using, the insights into how the audience’s mind works are invaluable and I recommend that you reach out directly to Tamsen and JD to schedule some time to chat with them about helping out your team.

I was blown away by how polished and thorough their presentation program was and will be recommending them in the future.

Good luck in your future presentations but if you really want to take your talks to the next level then get in touch with them.



The Four Slides Your Audience Wants In Your Presentation

I always use a lot of slides (mostly picture slides with very, very little text) and I do like some graphs if they are easy to understand. But when it comes to a business presentation, there are really only four slides that mean anything to your audience. And your presentation is all about your AUDIENCE so you need to give it to them. Or suffer the consequences. Let me use President Kennedy’s Address at Rice University as an example. You probably know it well.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon… (interrupted by applause) we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. – President Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1962 (wikisource)


We choose to go to the moon. – Photo courtesy of NASA

What we are going to do.

You can skip the formality of telling your audience how you got to your conclusion – only a few people really care.  Most people just want to know what is going to happen. President Kennedy just laid out what we are going to do – go to the moon.


This challenge will be hard but it will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies. – Photo Courtesy of NASA

What does this mean to you.

Then, of course, if you tell them what we are going to do – all that matters to them is how is this going to affect them. This question will run through their heads until you answer it. If you don’t answer it specifically, they will begin to envision all sorts of scenarios about how they will be impacted (mostly negative). President Kennedy told them what it was going to mean to them. It’s going to be hard but it will organize them and give them a measure of accomplishment.


We accept and intend to win the space race. – Photo courtesy of NASA.

What’s in it for you.

This is why they are listening in the first place. You know, because if they don’t think there’s anything in the presentation then they aren’t going to be present in the room (they will be looking at their phones and answering email or texting or just scrolling through their Twitter feed for something a heckuva lot more interesting than you – they probably won’t find it but at least it’s better than paying attention). President Kennedy told them what was in it for them. You get to win the space race. Bragging rights forever.


We need your best. – Photo courtesy of NASA.

What we need from you.

These are their next steps and I can’t believe how many times I miss this in my decks. It’s just so simple. Tell them what you need from them and they’ll decide if they are going to give it to you. But if you don’t put this simple slide in, people will walk away saying, “that was a pretty good presentation” and then go right back to doing what they’ve always been doing. If you don’t have that slide, you can’t blame anyone but yourself. President Kennedy told them what he needed. He needed their best to accomplish this (and the $5.4 billion dollar budget). Now he’s a little vague here but that’s ok. You can tell people that you need their best and then get a bit more specific about what their best means. Did he end with “Any questions?” Many people end with “Any questions?” If you do and you are missing any of these slides above, you’ll get a lot of questions and you’ll be wondering why they didn’t get the answers from your presentation.  If you make sure that you have these four slides then you won’t have that problem. BTW, don’t end with the “Questions” slide. You can have a “questions” slide but make sure your last slide contains your key takeaways and your call-to-action (contact me, right?). What slides do you always have in your presentations?

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