This is the first in a series of presentation posts taken from the 52 tips I provide in my book. I thought I would offer some more examples and insights into how you might apply them. ​And just to mess with my fellow nerds, I plan to cover them in ...

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Even a Nerd Can Be Heard - NERD TALK - 5 new articles

Tip # 28 : Design Your Presentation Like a Can of Mixed Nuts

This is the first in a series of presentation posts taken from the 52 tips I provide in my book. I thought I would offer some more examples and insights into how you might apply them.  

​And just to mess with my fellow nerds, I plan to cover them in random order. 
You can't expect every presentation to be filled with laughs or poignant moments or cartoons or even videos.  A presentation can't be all talk or all entertainment.  If you have too much of a good thing, like all pecans in your snack mix, it gets boring.

What you want in the perfect presentation is a little bit of everything. You want variety.  So you sprinkle in a little bit of humor, some pathos, some basset hound puppies (or is that just me?), and some new ideas, actions steps and hopefully tools that your audience can put to work.  You might choose to be more conceptual in nature when you are delivering a keynote presentation, but you still have to deliver the right mix of entertainment and new ideas if you want people to be wowed by your message, your delivery, and your incredible stage presence.  

You have to not only use different emotions, you must vary your energy, speed, and the inflection of your voice.  And be sure to add plenty of pauses.  The pauses, like those no count peanuts in your expensive can of mixed nuts, help your audience appreciate the good stuff (the cashews) even more.

Who's hungry??  Yikes! 

So here's the main thing.  Start off with a punch.  Find an impactful opener.  It might be humor, or a video, or a pithy quote.  Fill in with some meaty content in the form of great images (don't you even think about having slides with a bunch of bullet points and text on them) and then wind up with a big bang.   And if you can have a great high energy song (something like "Up Against the Wall you Redneck Mother") to start your talk that is the best (for you and your audience.) 

For me, the subject at hand usually leads to some kind of funny image, play on words, or animal that I can work through the entire presentation.

But you need to find something that works for you.  

Here's an example.  

I used Elvis Presley's song "You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog" to open my keynote presentation at Accountex 2016, called "Being the Basset Hound".  

There's a picture and a video of Elvis singing his song to a basset hound while wearing a tux.  My message was about being true to yourself and in that video, Elvis was forced to tone down his hip movements and sing to a dog.  You can see the embarrassment on both of their faces (Elvis' and especially the basset hound).  Message? You can't be your best self if you aren't being your authentic self - hip actions and all.  

The presentation started with the Elvis thing, included some videos showing bassets wagging their tails in sequence, and ended with  videos comparing different brand messages from a car company. 

My last point was  an assignment for the audience - you want them to do something with your message right? 

I wanted the accountants in my audience to DELIVER EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE which means: 


•Insights not balances
•Conversation not reconciliation
•Timely is often better than perfect
•Make THEM feel smart 

How might this presentation tip apply in your world? ​
    



A picture (and great design) is worth 10235.76 words

 It is a daily battle for me, someone who aims to communicate a formerly "boring" nerdy message to another person who isn't equally excited or informed about the subject matter.  I am totally dependent on good design and have the visual skills of a bat. 

The key to breaking down the communication barrier between me and my audience often lies in a great visual.  I have written untold whitepapers with what I consider clever themes but my message lives or dies based on what happens with the graphics that are used around my (oh so) clever copy. 

Here is an example of a whitepaper I originally crafted for a start up sales tax software company. The layout is my favorite example of excellent design. The designer,  Dirk Mynatt, who must have read at least one or two paragraphs about sales tax, played off of my main character who I named "Ethel".  Ethel, a model employee, is the low tech alternative to an automated solution.

The designer wisely chose a retro theme for the layout. 
Picture
Version 1 Startup
Eventually the startup was sold to a bigger corporation which took the very same copy and turned it into this version of the whitepaper. 
Picture
Version 2 Corporate

In this version, Ethel has been sent off to a nursing home and is now wearing a dopey grey suit. You cannot even make yourself read enough of this dry looking copy to find out about poor ole Ethel. 

I get big corporate brand policy. I understand consistent look and feel but it's a big fat bummer.

Do the brand police have to suck the life out of everything?   Where's the visual interest? The humor?

For me, it all comes down to finding clients who get my message. Who fit with my tone and style. Who value good design. That's when I can do my best work. Good design makes my words cleverer (?).  (It doesn't however fix bad grammar, or stupid. That is all me.)

I miss the little guys who would take risks and have some fun. 
    



My basset hound self

Note bowl of grits below the adding machine tape. 

Thank you to Rick Menard for perfectly illustrating my inner basset hound. 
    



Feedback 

I live for feedback. The worst thing I have ever experienced in a job is no feedback. I would rather have bad news than nothing. I want feedback so I can learn, improve, change course if necessary, get better.  (Check out my LinkedIn post on compliments.)

Every time I speak I rush to read the evaluations. Unfortunately, no matter how many positive responses there are, it is the negative ones I obsess over. What did I do wrong?  Why don't they like me?  Sometimes I carry that around for days.  But eventually, I return to reason and direct my focus to making my next presentation better than the last one. 

When I am on stage delivering a presentation, I feed off of my audience. If I feel them slipping away, I try to adapt my talk to regain their attention. Sometimes that makes me rush through my material and skip over a key point or two.  Other times, it makes me soar. But I have learned that this too can be survived.

Successful comedians learn how to survive what is called "dying on stage". It happens when no one laughs at their joke. They accept it as part of the job. Those who endure  learn to use the audience feedback as a way of constantly perfecting their craft.  I don't know how they do it. 
    


Winding up 2015 - nerd style

If you need evidence that putting your dream in writing works, I'm here to give you that evidence. Check out this page where I published my desire to be a keynote speaker in 2011. 

I didn't wait until I figured it out. I didn't have all of the answers. I wasn't even sure if I could do it. But I started. And that is 90% of the battle. 

And now I'm doing it. (And this isn't a dream, is it?)  If I can do it, so can YOU!

Wow it has been quite a couple of months. I have been having a great time talkin' nerdy and meeting so many amazing people so far this year - and there is still more to come. 

Podcast
I was interviewed by Dr. Linda Tucker for a Challenge Your Thinking Podcast, which just became available  here.  

Training 
I taught one of my favorite classes to winery folk here in Napa for Wise Academy in late October at the Consentino Winery. You can catch my Demystifying Financials course either as day 3 of the 201 course or all by itself as #203

Speaking
  • 11/4/15 QBConnect San Jose, CA "How to Get from No Voice to Influencer in 7 Steps or Less" .  What an amazing event!  I met so many wonderful, inspiring people there. 
  • 11/6/15 Toastmasters District 33 conference, Santa Maria, CA "How to say anything with humor."  Really intimidating to speak to so many great speakers in Santa Maria!
  • 11/19/15  SleeterCon, Keynote "Comfort is for Hushpuppies" 
  • 12/08/15   ITA Fall Collaborative, Scottsdale,AZ Closing Keynote:"Making the Most of the Communication Equation < Nerdy Words = >Value"

I hope to see you soon!

While you live, SHINE! 
    


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