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Presentation Self: What a difference a year makes!

Posted by Amy Wilson on December 31, 2009

It was just about a year ago that I jumped on Meg and Mark’s bandwagon – to revolutionize presentation giving, leveraging the wisdom provided by Sacha Chua’s book selections (Presentation Zen, Back of the Napkin, and Slideology) not to mention her own fabulous examples.  Fortunately, my team (mostly willingly) hopped on the bandwagon too.  What followed was not a smooth ride, but rather a bumpy, exhausting one full of doubt, vulnerability, and yes, tears.  At the end of the journey, though, after months of hard work, 10+ iterations, and heaps of support from colleagues, I found my presentation self.

And so, here are a few words of wisdom if you choose to find your presentation self in 2010:

– It’s not about using beautiful pictures and interesting stories … it’s about finding pictures and stories that tell your story, communicating your material in a way that makes you happy.   If you’re happy and comfortable with your story, you

  • will have a better connection with your audience because they will see what’s wonderful about you – quirks and all.
  • won’t feel the need to memorize your script (as I did the first few iterations – bad, I know!) because the words will flow naturally.

– Focus on a particular topic and be strategic about your audiences.  Start with those you trust – trust to give you harsh feedback, but also trust to have good intentions.  This combination is key.  Only with this trust could I completely revamp my presentation and head into the next round.  I was blessed to have this audience spend several iterations tearing my presentation apart, because when they gave me the thumbs up, I knew I earned it.

– Don’t underestimate how hard it is to do this.  After you read Presentation Zen, it will seem easy.  Then you’ll try it and you will doubt the whole philosophy.  Keep trying.  For me, the trick was to find the balance between the abstract metaphor and the concrete example.  Ultimately, I scrapped 95% of my original presentation, keeping just the main concept.  But, those early metaphors helped shape my thinking in creating the concrete story.

– Buy yourself a cool outfit to go with your presentation.  (I got a gorgeous, soft red jacket).  Feel fabulous when you tell your story.  And smile when people get what you’re saying.

I have to figure out what my BHAG is in 2010 … any suggestions?  What are you focusing on?

9 Responses to “Presentation Self: What a difference a year makes!”

  1. Your suit is BEAUTIFUL and you look radiant.

    I know I need to revise my presentation style, and here’s my question. On the CedarCrestone HR Systems survey, do you think I can just summarize key points and not include the data behind them? Oh heck…..I know you will just say yes.

    happy new year…hope to see you soon.

  2. Amy Wilson said

    Thanks Lexy!

    What’s wonderful about you Lexy is how much you LOVE the survey – the science, the data, the results – now if you could just weave quilting into your key points you’d be all set!! 🙂

  3. Meg Bear said

    Great advice Amy! As usual you showed us all how this is done. We were so excited to see the cheering crowds.

    As for my BHAG for 2010 I’m still working on exactly what it is.. it’s so big I think it’s going to span a few years for me. Very exciting but not actually clear in my own head yet. Be confident when I know I’ll be posting for sure 😉


  4. Sacha Chua said

    I’m delighted to hear that you’re developing your own style and discovering your stories. =D I’m looking forward to being inspired by you and others in 2010!

  5. Amy Wilson said

    Thank you Sacha! You inspired us for sure … I hope to return the favor some day. 🙂

  6. Jim Riley said

    You scrapped 95%!?! But I loved the bit about “cheese sauce with just little bitty bits of broccoli”….REALLY!

  7. Amy Wilson said

    Oh yes, Jim – we will have to find an opportunity for you to see the new version – I think you will like what you see! (your feedback made a big impact, let’s put it that way) And, there is definitely room for cheese sauce in this version 😉

  8. […] I want to share.  I know I should share and I can appreciate the benefits that occur when I do share.  So how do I overcome the fear of sharing those unformed, ridiculous thoughts?  I build trusting […]

  9. […] Zen, which I devoured a couple years back (along with several other must-reads listed below) on my mission to bring creativity and engagement to my talks.  Garr’s books are easy to read, informative, and […]

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