Presentation Basics - Principle #1

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • How do I start a presenation?
  • Where should I stand during a presentation?
  • Where do my hands go when I present?

It's been over a year since we first talked about presentations, and we only talked about one very narrow aspect of presentations: the use and mis-use of PowerPoint. Sure, PowerPoint is important, but even if you master it, your presentations can still be terrible. (Whether you read your slides to your audience or not.)

Presentations are a core skill for managers. In this cast, we BARELY scratch the surface, but share just ONE basic principle of great speakers that apply to business presentations. You're not going to become great with just this one cast, but you ARE going to look better than your peers. We look forward to the first member sending us a note describing the unexpectedly great response they got when they put our recommendations to work for them and their ideas.

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Now this is what i have been waiting

Now this is what i have been waiting for, this is pure gold guys!

Where is

Where is it?

Oops! It's there now.


It's there now. ;-)

Why are you guys working on Christmas?

Why are you guys working on Christmas? Go home and spend time with the family, even if you don't celebrate Christmas! :)

Wordpress lets you post entries "in

Wordpress lets you post entries "in advance". I'm going to assume (hope!) that's what happened here...


Mark, Michael, Upfront just know that

Mark, Michael,
Upfront just know that - somewhere overseas - you are adding precious value to a young managers daily managing performance - and I'd like to thank you personally for that. Your relevant and yet pragmatic messages are a treat to listen to and learn from. And - FINALLY! you are getting to presenting skills - but heavens, don't you torture your hungry audience by splitting this topic into zillions of episodes to drip those lifesaving skills over a periode of 5 yrs (in the long run, we're all dead ;-)! I have just come back from an end-of-year-meeting, having had to hold a short speech (to celebrate the extraordinary perfomance of one of the brands in the portfolio of my marketing team) on a stage illuminated from below, with a microphone that made me hear my voice very loud, but only thru the loudspeakers, the audience of 130 people somewhere in the dark. Now, I was perfectly prepared, practiced in the hotel room, knew the text by heart plus had it in my hands. Amazingly, I was NOT nervous beforehand - and yes, I paused before starting (don't remember what my feet did, though ;-) and yet what happened after the first two sentences *ç%&@*``?@&@**@)(&/%&*!!!! I felt the the adrenalin literally crawl up my brain - to let me there, falling out of context, my tongue slipping, finally had to clumsily fold out my paper etc. etc. *aargh*
I am used to present as such, doing e.g. full day programs w/my sales force, but when it becomes danger zone (peers, bosses, difficult topic) it seems that my body physically plays tricks on me to "drain my brain" when I most need it. See, there is a lot of need to learn on how to master physical/psychological overreactions - as betablocker can't be the solution for folks like us, who believe in the power of behavioural changes...
Thanks in advance for including such psychological aspects in one of your podcasts to come.
Kind regards, A.
P.S. Maybe you have a reading recommendation to this?

Kudos on this podcast Mark and Mike!

Kudos on this podcast Mark and Mike!

As someone who delivers presentations to groups of all sizes almost every day, I thought every one of your recommendations were spot on. Some may think that you are being overly explicit in your instructions and they couldn't be more wrong. I have witnessed so many people struggle with the beginning of their presentations and as a result, they lose their audience before they even get started. These tips will help everyone get off to a much better start.

One very small, but useful thing that has helped me - After making eye contact with as many people in the room as possible, always with a small smile, I make my smile a little larger and raise my eyebrows when I first begin to speak. I think this technique is also mentioned in the Handshake podcast, so it should be easy for all of the faithful listeners to incorporate into their presentations.

Alexandra - There are two techniques that I use to avoid what happened during your presentation. The first is to ALWAYS visit the venue before my presentation (this sometimes means flying in the night before instead of the day of the presentation). In a perfect world, it would even be set up like it will be for my presentation. The second thing I do is visualize myself IN the venue delivering my presentation. I visualize where I will stand, what my movements will be, etc. I have found that the more time I spend on my visualization, the less nervous I get in the actual presentation. The A/V issues can be hard to overcome, but if you are comfortable with the rest of the presentation, it does make the A/V issues a little easier to deal with.

Mark and Mike - Thank you for all of your hard work and your contributions to my career!


Alexandra- Well, betablocker drugs


Well, betablocker drugs are not the answer ;-) . You have your own supply of that drug, and practice is what makes it available. I speak all the time, and there are still moments when I lose all grip on reality. Welcome to the club!

Keep working at it!


Thanks, Bob, thanks Mark - as always

Thanks, Bob, thanks Mark - as always there are no miracles that speed up and replace repeated exposure and practice. A complicating issue can be if the speech needs to be held in a foreign language - as it was the case here - an issue more frequently to overcome for Europeans, I guess. Kregs, A.

Mark & Michael, Early on you mentinon

Mark & Michael,
Early on you mentinon it had been a year since preseting was covered in the podcast, could you please let me know which podcast contained this info?

Been practicing the moment of silence to start a meeting, and even tried it at this AM's staff meeting, it works! It does take some getting accustomed to since I am a strong type A and I normally am so excited about getting onto the content of my presentation that I never really thought how to start other than jumping in and going. It does give me a moment to review the top line items and it certainly does present to the room that your the focus of attention.
Now if I can only get everyone not to keep their crackberries at the ready.....

This is my first post, although I have been a subscriber and fan for about a year!
This podcast is the best single source I have found and even have some of my newer managers listening in to improve their skills! Thank You!

Ignore the crackberries. You can only

Ignore the crackberries. You can only control yourself (and in this life, only for a while). If you deliver effectively, they'll move in your direction.

And, set an example by putting yours down.


gorb2k, The podcast we referred to was

gorb2k, The podcast we referred to was the Presenting with Powerpoint podcast located here.


Just catching up after the

Just catching up after the holidays.

A single note: You know, if you guys had a series of premium (i.e. "pay us for them") casts and/or materials on the full MT Giving Presentations spiel, I would have bought it today after listening to this.

I'm just saying...


Mark and Mike, One of my friend

Mark and Mike,

One of my friend introduced your podcast... i walk through all the podcast one by one... it is so amazing... it is very good for the project management people like me... you guys are doing great job... I would like to say not just thanks you guys... my unspeechable word to you guys... i do continue to drop mails now on...


I just had my first chance to execute

I just had my first chance to execute the "stand still and quiet" technique. The response from the audience was unexpected and interesting. I walked up in front of the group and stopped where eveyone presents (which is in front of everyone right by the projected video and the laptop that controls powerpoint). I then stood still and started looking at a couple folks in the eye, then I slightly smiled (all of this was maximum 2 seconds - probably less). At some point into this, almost everyone broke out into a mini laugh. I then started speaking as the small and quick laugh subsided. Everyone noticed the silence. I asked someone afterwards what was funny. They said it was how I went up there and they expected me to talk, instead I was still and quiet and visibly relaxed my shoulders some. To them and to me, it was clear that I had everyones' attention. Next time I'll try not to visibly relax my shoulders.

Did anyone else have an interesting response from the audience?

Best Regards - Aaron G. from Missouri