Links of the Week: October 21-27 2012

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Since I teach Entertainment and Music Business students, I find myself researching presentations in the business world quite often.  INC.com’s “Leadership” section has proven a valuable resource, and most of our “Links of the Week” come from there.  The third and final link comes from research I’ve been doing for an article I am writing for Andrew Dlugan’s Six Minutes blog.

In “5 Ways to Get People to Actually Listen to You,” Maria Tabaka lists a few ways to engage your audience in your next presentation.  These five ways include using the pause effectively; engaging people before the speech begins; grabbing attention with a powerful attention-getter; applying verbal clues to content; and recapping the important pieces of your speech (Source).  Tabaka’s advice will definitely engage your audience in your next presentation, but I would also add that in every speech you give from now on, you must always include an element of storytelling.

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Margaret Heffernan emphasizes the importance of storytelling in “3 Characteristics of Amazing Presentations.”  Heffernan developed these three tips after her first TED Global visit.  Her advice is as follows: 1) stories are important, 2) images are meaningless – with one exception, 3) enthusiasm isn’t everything (Source).  I was intrigued after reading her second and third points because I immediately disagreed.  Images are powerful and important, and enthusiasm is key!  However, after reading her explanation, I did understand and support Heffernan’s ideas despite my initial hesitation.

Heffernan explained her second point well.  She said, “I saw a lot of slides and most of them I can’t even remember. But the few that I do I’ll remember forever” (Source).  So, as opposed to saying images are meaningless, I think we should maybe work on finding and using more impacting images.  A powerful image can and will stick with you for days, weeks, and months… But a piece of clip art is worthless.  People should spend more time on their visual communication in order for it to make that impact.

Heffernan didn’t say enthusiasm wasn’t important; instead, she argued that “[i]nformation really does matter and however evangelical the delivery, substance beats style every time” (Source).  I agree and disagree because I believe that the combination of effective delivery, strong content, and impacting visuals makes a successful speech.  This is why I love the presentation stool metaphor so much.  We can’t argue that one “leg” is more important than the other because a speaker needs to cultivate and to develop three legs in order to present successfully.  However, I do agree with Heffernan’s assertion that all show with no substance does not a presentation make.

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Our third and final link of the week is a throwback from Presentation Zen.  Garr Reynolds wrote, “One Secret to a Healthy Life (And a Great Presentation)” back in 2007.  We can apply this concept to presentations because we don’t want to stuff our audiences full of way too much information.  Imagine finishing a presentation and leaving your audience wanting more!  Garr Reynolds says, “My advice is this: no matter how much time you are given, never ever go over time, and in fact finish a bit before your allotted time is up” (Source).  Since I typically use every moment of my allotted  time, this is definitely something I need to work on in future presentations and speeches.

What great public speaking and presentation articles have you been reading lately?

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