Tag Archives: How to deliver great presentation

How to Develop & Deliver a New Speech (or Me & Michelle Obama)

It is a part of my work that I truly detest…  how to develop and deliver a new speech. It scares me, frankly, because it’s untested. But, I follow my own advice by deciding on a topic, putting it out there and seeing who bites.

Well, this time, I got bitten by an event expecting 19,000 attendees (you read that right) and which just announce Michelle Obama would be keynoting. This insures attendance that high, and probably higher.

Even though the event isn’t until later in September, I’ve begun preparing already. This is because 1) I need to crystallize my thoughts and 2) practice to work out the kinks and deliver it as flawlessly as possible.

Most speakers won’t do this work, which is, frankly, why most speakers fail.

So I thought I’d share my process with you to show you how it can be done. Below are the steps I have taken so far and what I will continue to take until speech day:

Click here to learn by video or reading…

 1.  Figure out a pithy title.  I looked at different media and speeches, took headlines from tabloids and magazines and plugged my own words into them and basically threw them onto a document. I realized what I do is help people get attention in a very noisy world. So my main title is ATTENTION! You see the double entendre? Then, I had to decide on a sexy subtitle. My original document contains 12 of these. I went with the one I think best goes to people’s pain: Re-igniting Focus in a World Drowning In Distraction. Yeah, I like it too. But I’m keeping the others for potential future use

2. Compose a program description. This is the title, short, descriptive paragraph and bullet points. The question I always ask myself is, “What will people take away and think about when I’m done?”

3. Send out the program description to venues looking for speakers. I have an alert set up that is “Call for Speakers.” I sent my program description to a few that came through and, voilå, one of them said yes!

4. Put together an outline. This is where I’m going to start gauging the rhythm, or how the speech moves along. Do I have enough facts vs. stories vs. audience engagement? Where’s the funny stuff?

Ok, I’m still in the outline stage, but here is what I’ll do from now on…

5. Complete the outline by the end of May. I’ll fill in the blanks and run it by some trusted advisors.

6. Start saying it out loud beginning in June. That gives me 3+ solid months to really dig in. I’ll do it a couple of times per week in June, 3x per week in July, and 4-5x per week in August. There will be some time off for vacation. I’ll likely bring in my speech coach who will be able to give me objective feedback and criticism about it all — material, rhythm, and delivery.

7. Put the finishing touches on in September. I’ll practice this speech every day. It should be well-learned by then, but I know new things will pop into my mind as the big day approaches. It won’t change in any big way, but I’m flexible.

By the time the event happens, I’ll be so ready and confident that it’s good, I’ll be excited instead of terrified, and terrified is what I am right now. :-0

And that’s how you develop and deliver a new speech. It’s not easy and it’s not quick. But it’s powerful as well as the fastest way to personal, corporate, brand, and sales success.

How to Present to Investors

Most founders don’t know how to present to investors.

I’ve seen it a thousand times… a founder comes up with a great business idea. He or she has managed to get it up and running, and customers are buying. But they’ve been bootstrapping the business and now need a serious injection of cash to grow and scale. So they put together a deck and start pitching investors. And things don’t go well.

The first thing that goes wrong is they are too deep in the weeds. Whether it’s a technology product, or a new type of underwear, when someone has worked as hard and for as long as most of these founders have, it’s easy to get mired in the technical aspects of the process of creating the product and to imagine this is also what investors want to hear about.

Instead, investors want to be inspired, surprised, and delighted because… guess what… they’re human. So presenters should be showing what the product is and what it does. Not telling… showing.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say, you have a new app that does something easier and better than the ones currently on the market (there will usually be competitors). Since your product is technology-based, you can easily show how it works by taking investors on a virtual tour or doing a walk-through that is projected onto a screen.

If you have a new, physical product that solves a problem, have samples of that product on hand to distribute so the investors can see and feel it. But that’s only the beginning. Tell a story about the problem this product solves. I spoke to a client recently who has a product that soothes physical pain. It’s all natural. So we went through some types of pain a customer might use it for: muscle aches, bruises, sprains, and so forth. Then she mentioned hangovers. That’s funny and funny is always a winner so keep that in mind, too. The more entertaining you can be, the more investors will like you.

The second thing that goes wrong is founders don’t make a clear ask. This is something that requires a ton of pre-work and analysis. Within the first couple of minutes, investors need to know what you’re looking for from them. So have a number and be ready to justify it.

The third thing that goes wrong is it takes too long to get to the point. Even if investors say you’ve got 30 minutes, they often run late and short of time. Be prepared to get your best stuff out in the first 5 minutes including your ask.

Also be prepared for interruptions and questions you hate. Don’t get caught short by thinking they won’t be asked. If you can handle the toughest questions, you’ll give yourself the best chance to get to the higher level discussions.

The fourth thing that goes wrong is when the presenter is boring. Show your enthusiasm for your business. It’s contagious. If you stand up there and deliver your information in a droning way, investors will be checking their (Apple) watches.

There is a client I have who is one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met. He has a business that is, in my opinion, meh. But because he’s so engaging and he knows how to present to investors, he’s been able to secure funding and grow. Don’t underestimate the value and power of your delivery and interpersonal communication skills.

There is only so much money out there. Avoid these pitfalls by learning how to present to investors and you’ll have the best chance of getting some of it.

Trump Knows Presentation IS Everything

President Trump accomplished a major reset of his presidency with his speech before a joint session of Congress. And he did it in an age-old way: his presentation skills. He knows either by accident or design, presentation is everything.

The first thing I look for during presidential addresses is whether the president “showed” leadership. In other words, was the president’s presentation consistent with his words? Was what he said supported by how he said it? In the speech before a joint session of Congress, my assessment is he failed more than he succeeded, but he succeeded just enough to change people’s minds.

For example, since by now we all know he rarely sticks to a script, doing so this time was a win.

First, the president dressed for the occasion. His clothing fit well and the colors were elegant. Good style, dress, and adornment make the both the wearer and the observer feel confident.

The speech itself was more poetic. It used a number of rhetorical devices that in the hands of a Reagan or Obama, would have sent that thing soaring, yet he did not deliver it in a way that did it justice. There was little passion evident in his delivery. He bridles at using the teleprompter. Still, this was better delivered than former teleprompter speeches.

His speaking voice, which is not a high quality male speaking voice to begin with, was flat or singsong in its intonation through most of the speech. It came alive only during the Harley-Davidson story because he clearly enjoyed telling it and he even exhibited some humor.

Regarding humor, it would behoove him to use more, particularly of the self-directed variety. This would make him more likeable and relatable.

The president exhibited more generosity and grace than in the past, reflecting the grandeur and majesty of a formal address delivered to a joint session of Congress.

Here is a cardinal rule of communication that many smart people eschew: If the way you look and sound contradicts what you say, people will believe the way you look and sound instead of what you say.

Both Ronald Reagan, affectionately remembered as “the great communicator,” and Barack Obama, who moved arenas of people with soaring rhetoric, understood this rule very well. They knew they were in a unique position to heal the country’s divisions. Even the president’s biggest fans expect him to give voice to the anxieties of all Americans, to lift us all up so we can begin to unite.

The ability to deliver a powerful speech is the essence of leadership.

President Trump got much closer with this one, single speech.