The first book I read for my 12 goal oriented books was Jerry Weissman’s Presentations in Action: 80 Memorable Presentation Lessons from the Masters.
Up front, let me say, this book met my expectations. I expected to see a lot of things I already knew. I expected to learn a few new things. What I didn’t expect was more books for my reading list.
The book is broken down into 80 little stories and these are grouped into five sections talking about Content, Graphics, Delivery Skills, Q&A (dealing with it, not your questions), and Integration. The sections made a lot of sense even if a couple of the stories felt like they had been sort of shoe-horned into the section. Most of the stories made a lot of sense, and they really do offer a lot of good advice for presentations, big & small, live & recorded, private & public. And that’s good, because I’ve tended to have a single presentation style for all those events. Now I’m finally learning otherwise. Not only do you need to modify your message for the audience, something I was already aware of, but you need to modify your delivery for the size and location of that audience.
What I liked best was that Mr. Weissman put a lot of other reading in front of me. He not only presented interesting cases, but he told where they came from and related readings and other stuff along those lines. For me, it expanded the reach and usefulness of the book.
Some of the advice just isn’t going to be helpful. Such as “When in Doubt, Leave it Out.” I suppose if I were doing a keynote or some similar type of situation, this is useful advice, but most of my speaking is of the type “you have 90 minutes to fill, go.” You can’t cut that down to 45 minutes because you’ll get bad reviews, not kudos.
Some of the advice is excellent. I was already very aware of “I Can Read It Myself.” Others I’m realizing that I needed. For example, “In Q&A, Speed Kills,” just last week I presented at a user group, heard 3/4 of a question, and started answering. Unfortunately, I didn’t wait for 100% because when I was done, the person asking, finished, and my answer, which had run on for about 2 minutes was cut down to 2 words. Ouch. Lesson learned, a little late.
Some of the stories, well, let’s just say he used politics, which, makes sense because it’s all about communications and presentations. But… I don’t like getting a clear view of someone’s political leanings in a book of this sort. It just doesn’t belong here. If you can’t keep it neutral, don’t use that type of information, now matter how applicable and effective. If you do, and your biases slip through, it absolutely detracts from the effectiveness, and I’m sorry Mr. Weissman, but you were pretty clear and it was irksome for those who don’t agree with you.
That aside, this was an excellent read. It’s short, but extremely focused and very informative. If you’re just getting started as a speaker, I’d recommend getting a copy. If you’re experienced, I suspect you’ll still get something out of it.
Next up for my 12 is StrenghFinder 2.0.