Tips and Articles

How To Prepare, Stage & Deliver Winning Presentations,
3rd Edition, 2004 (AMACOM)
by Tom Leech

International Presentations: How Not to Sound Like a Fool
Executive Update: August 2004

Whether sharing knowledge, pitching membership, or selling products, association leaders increasingly must craft their presentations to appeal to international audiences. Author and coach Tom Leech describes how careful crafting of your message and style can serve as a passport to success. (Click on link below to read article.)

Winning over that audience: Ten Tips for success
By Tom Leec
Copyright 2008

In today’s competitive, busy world, it’s important to have expertise, a good product, a well-run company. Important and not sufficient. Because until you convince others of the brilliance of your cause, it’s worth little. 
Face-to-face presentations provide valuable opportunities to state your case directly with potential customers, the financial community, the board or colleagues.

A winning presentation can boost your cause and company significantly – clinch a proposal, get needed capital, open doors for new business. Poor presentations can lead to opposite outcomes. 
Helped greatly by computer technology, presentations are better today than ever before. Still, many aren’t and even the good ones seem to take too much time and energy. Based on two-plus decades as nn external and internal consultant and trainer, here are ten tips that lead to the winners:

  1. Plan ahead. Common problems are procrastination and giving it too little time, too late. Presentations often get put off because they’re regarded as not a main-line activity (and sometimes because they’re hard work and create anxiety). Recognize the importance — this is a major selling opportunity — and lay out a timetable to get the talk prepared, as you would with any major project.
  2. Get help. If you have resources within your organization, get them onboard early. If not, plenty of help is out there to expedite all phases of your presentation, from graphics to performance coaching.
  3. Be prepared. The spotlight is on when you are a presenter. Do your homework and be ready.
  4. Practice. It may not make it perfect, but it almost always makes it better. And it helps avert operational snafus, such as the upside down slide. Dry run early enough to make changes. Time it, video-tape it, fix it.
  5. Be what got you there. Into the room comes the “leader” – assertive, energetic, likable and persuasive. On the way to the lectern, he/she steps into an imaginary phone booth and out comes the “presenter” – lackluster, mechanical, wooden. Key is to let your natural style come through (unless that is wooden). Common impeder: reading from a manuscript.
  6. Talk the right issues. Meaning those of importance to the audience. Many presenters talk excessively about technology and widgets to an audience concerned about strategy and markets. Key words: “Who cares?”.
  7. Help your listeners get it. “The data speaks for itself,” said one presenter, failing to recognize it speaks with a forked tongue, with different messages to different people. Apply your expertise and translate information so listeners grasp the essential messages. Beware of information overload and understanding bypass.
  8. Use visuals to aid, not hamper. A picture is worth 1,000 words… unless it is 1,000 words. Computer technology has made it easier to have good graphics. Still, there’s the occasional tiny print, the overloaded chart, the slide that leaves the audience baffled. Key words: “The point is…”.
  9. You run the show – don’t let the charts do it. Common problems: excessive reliance on visuals or too much on them, talking to the screen and not the audience. Talk with your audience – they’re hiring you, not your charts.
  10. Be ready for the Q&A (Question & Answer). A great presentation can self-destruct if the speaker can’t handle the flak. Conversely a key question, well-handled, can win the case.