Presentations to Talk About

Have you been to a keynote or presentation that when it’s over you just can’t stop talking about?  What was it that had you so captivated?  Did the information blow your mind?  Did the speaker inspire you to action?  Was the message so off base you can’t think of anything except disputing it?  Whatever the reason, in the end, the speaker was successful if when you walk out, you continue discussing the presentation.

I recently saw a presentation that was so poor, I have not been able to stop talking about it, unfortunately in a bad way.  This person did not provide any new or useful information and his presentation style was as if he was lecturing to a Freshman intro class, not the room full of educated professionals he was facing.  This got me thinking about what makes for a good presentation.

I have come up with four main types of presentations that keep us talking long after they finish.  These fall into two different categories.

Category: Content

  • Positive Conent: This includes new, useful or motivating information that will have a positive impact on your or the work you do.  You continue the dialogue well after the speech and often refer back in your own teachings.  One of the best examples of this I have seen is Dennis Snow, a former manager within Disney University who now speaks about customer service.
  • Disputable Content: This is information that you passionately disagree with and that your ongoing dialogues are those presenting alternative information.  At last year’s ACUI International Conference, James Fowler was just this type as he offered some very controversial messages about social media.  Whether it was accurate or not, the concepts kept people talking for months after.

Category: Delivery

  • Inspirational: This is when regardless of the content or the message, the style of the presenter creates a huge emotional impact on you.  Also at last year’s ACUI International Conference I witnessed the most inspirational speaker I have ever seen.  Lt. Dan Choi spoke on being opening gay in the military and all that I could think about was this must have been what it was like to hear Dr. Martin Luther King speak (OK, maybe a stretch of a comparison, but it was pretty powerful) and I wasn’t even directly connected to his content.
  • You’ve Lost Me:  This is where the delivery or style was so weak, with poor transitions, examples that make no sense at all, metaphors that are not linked to the content and other disasters that the audience is just lost (but not uninterested…that’s actually type #5).  This is the only of these four that the continued dialogue is for the wrong reasons, you just keep saying “what was the person thinking?”  The speaker I discussed earlier falls into this category (he’ll remain nameless to be fair).

The fifth type I just hinted at is one that creates no dialogue afterwards because the content was not new nor challengeable and the delivery was just plain boring that you lose interest altogether.  We’ll call this Clock Watching.

When giving your own presentations or keynotes, obviously you want to have a positive impact (I would hope) and really, any of the first three above does that (yes, even disputable content, even though it’s not positive towards your message).  You should always take your presentations very seriously, your audience is investing their time into you, you should do the same for them.

A wonderful book I use before every presentation I give is The Exceptional Presenter by Timothy J. Koegel.  I love the useable tips throughout this book.

The 5 components of a great presentation:

  1. Begin with a Purpose: Clearly identify the 1, 2 or 3 key points you want the audience to remember
  2. Objective/Purpose/Mission/Goal: Identify what you will cover (not in detail, just the basic agenda for the presentation)
  3. Position/Situation/Issues: State the current situation or issues (basically, why are you here)
  4. End Result/Benefits/Consequences: Describe what will happen of taking or not taking action
  5. Next Step/Action Plan/Time Line: This is your call to action

Remember this sequence: Tell them what you’re going to tell them (opening) – Tell them (body) – Tell them what you just told them (close) and you’ll be setting up the audience to walk away with your key points.

Think about all of the presentations and keynotes that you have seen, which of these do you remember the most.  What stands about about them?  What parts of their message or style do you remember vividly?  If you want to learn more tips about presenting, study great speakers.  Check out TED Talks to find short presentations of great content and delivery.

6 thoughts on “Presentations to Talk About”

  1. Justin- exceptional post… really appreciate the examples, information & resources. Thx!
    Some of my favorite speakers: Michael Wood, TRU Insights (research on teens, tweens & twenty somethings), Sally Hogshead @sallyhoghead author, marketing expert, FASCINATE
    Higher Ed: Dr. Larry Roper, Dr. Maura Cullen, Vernon Wall, Dr. Rev. Jamie Washington, Dr. Kathy Obear…so many who do the work then deliver. Stay warm! Teri

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