With various stories, examples, bullet points, exercises, performance tracking, note pages and practice charts, the author, Timothy J. Koegel, provides the guidelines and suggestions for us to present ourselves and our ideas at an exceptional level, to any audience, in any venue. Different kinds of skills, techniques and strategies are illustrated in the book and readers are encouraged to practice to be an excellent presenter and never accept average. In chapter one, through the example of American Elections, the author first makes a statement that the majority of people can become an exceptional presenter as long as they have a desire to improve, a formula to guide their progress and a willingness to develop the necessary skills.
An exceptional presenter is organized, passionate, engaging and natural. To become an exceptional presenter, we need to understand our audience and practice on daily basis.
In chapter two, the author mainly discusses the importance of processing good presentation skills. For example, people with good presentation skills maintain a distinct competitive advantage in winning new business and securing their jobs.
Presentation skills can be broadly defined as any form of oral communication. Therefore, every time we speak in public, we are in fact making an impression. The frequency of making using presentation skills should never be underestimated. Also instead of hoping to “get through” the presentations, exceptional presenters always prepare for challenges and look forward to improve. On the contrary, the author explains the cost of having less than exceptional or poor presentation skills. For individuals, the lace of exceptional presentation skills can result in the loss of money and the slim opportunities of promotion.
For business, loss of revenue due to poor presentation and communication skills can be dramatic. Therefore, it is especially necessary for us to seek feedback from audience to effectively measure our presentation skill.
Even though we are not willing to hear unpleasant comments, we need those comments to better position ourselves as presenters to see how much we need to improve and how can we improve next. Making presentations organized is what the author discusses in chapter four. There are two facts to make a presentation organized: one is to develop a structure to frame the information the presenter aims to convey; the other is to create an organized impression from the start of the presentation. To structure the presentation, author recommend that a statement containing purpose, objective, position, consequences and next step should be developed as an opening and a purpose statement or the strongest points of the session should be stressed at the end of the presentation to leave audience a memorable impression. To leave the impression of organized, the 60/20 rule can be applied. Arrive 60 minutes early before the presentation and make good use of the 20 minutes before presentation to introductions, information gathering and rapport building.
Passion, the most significant response in presentation, is fully discussed in chapter 5. In order to engage and persuade audience, presenters should not only feel passionate, but also look and sound passionate. The body language, facial expressions, movement, gestures and voice are all powerful tools we can employ to convert words into action and transform the printed text into emotions and enthusiasm. As passion can be conveyed through delivery, attention can be focused on the skill sets of posture, gestures and movement, voice command and elimination of hesitation and verbal graffiti. A great length of suggestion to these skill sets has been talked about by the author in this chapter. In chapter six, engaging and connecting with audience is the main topic. Only if a presenter succeeds to show a genuine interest in his audience, will the audience show interest in the presenter and thus the presented content. 11 ways exceptional presenters connect with their audiences are illustrated by the author.
For example, presenters should speak to the interest of their audience. Stories, examples and anecdotes can be applied to bring presentation into life. Eye contacts should be shared by all audience to show sincerity and care. Also a brief discussion on whether to utilize handout or not is given by the author. The handout can aid audience better understand and digest new information. It can also make presenters lose attention from audience. Therefore, an evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages should be conduct to reach the decision whether to handout or not. In chapter seven, the author emphasizes the importance of presenters being natural. It is suggested that adopting a conversational presentation style can help create a comfortable atmosphere and make presenters present in a natural manner. Understanding the audience is of great importance for presenters. In chapter eight, it is recommended that presenters should spend time studying audience by talking with them about their concerns, goals, and fears that are important for them. In chapter nine, the author tries to persuade us to practice the skill sets he mentioned in the previous chapters by making those skills habits.
Once those skills become our habits, it is almost impossible that the skills will fail us even we are under the most extreme pressure and the most adverse circumstances. It is very convenient for us to practice as practicing those skills does not require any audience. The only thing we need is the desire and determination to improve. The author says that the Q&A session is the most important segment of one presentation in chapter ten as this session can help presenter to know whether the audience is following his thoughts, whether they are interested or even do they agree with presenter’s point of view. According to the author, a strong presentation can be overshadowed by a less than stellar Q&A session. Some techniques and tips are provided by the author, such as buying time to gather the thoughts by repeating or rephrasing the question or conducting mock Q&A sessions prior to the presentation.
Chapter eleven discusses multiple ways for presenters to use nervous energy to create positive results. It is suggested that well-defined gestures and movements, greater voice projection and inflection can be applied to convert nervous energy to positive energy. Other tips and techniques are also specified in detail in this chapter. In chapter twelve, the author stresses the important role introduction plays in a presentation. An effective introduction can build the credibility of the speaker, create anticipation from audience and heighten the relevance of the topic to the audience. Last but not least, the author appeals to us that we should never accept average when we can be exceptional.
The author asks us to make commitment to practice all the skills he mentioned in previous chapters on daily basis from the minute we make up our minds. In the course of reading this book, I find chapter five which is about being passionate and chapter eleven which is about making good use of nervous energy the most useful for me. I am not a strong presenter as I seldom utilize my body language and I even did not realize my voice can also be a powerful weapon. Therefore, I am considering practicing my body language and voice projection to add energy into my speech every time I need to express ideas to others. Besides, I will try to convert my nervous energy into positive energy by practicing and rehearsing before every time I get the opportunity to speak in public and just be myself but a better self.