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Helping Executives Win Deals, Advance Careers and Improve Lives
  April 2013 Newsletter

Are Your Fears Driving Your Presentations?

ADAP stands for Audience-Driven, Authentic Presentations. Last year, we introduced the concept to our community of presenters who want to design and deliver winning presentations. The key is to analyze every part of your presentation through these dual lenses. Is the focus on meeting the audience’s need to know and ability to process information at this time, or is your delivery focused on overcoming your fears that you may do something wrong when presenting. ADAP says that when fears guide design and delivery decisions, it destroys your ability to feel competent about the subject matter and confident that you can communicate it effectively.

Imagine that ABC Company conducts market research for its clients concerning their products and services. The purpose of the research is to answer a question about sales, product design, target market, etc. The goal of the presentation is to highlight the most significant findings and share recommendation and conclusions that ABC’s clients can now use for future decisions.

The challenge is how much information to provide in the executive presentation. An excellent presentation provides a thorough analysis from the client’s standpoint and substantiated recommendations for action. But many presenters forget that their audience’s ability to process information is the standard for whether to include information and how to do so. Instead they focus on their fears, such as the:

  • Fear of leaving out some piece of information that someone in the audience might want
  • Fear that the client won’t appreciate how much work was done, without showing everything
  • Fear that the client will not trust their conclusion unless everything is presented.

The result is a presentation that is overly crowded with details: too many words, numbers and pictures; to fit them all on each slide, they are too small for people to read. The clutter fills the page with lots of unnecessary detail which competes with the valuable nuggets for the viewer’s attention.

This sets up a “losing” presentation. The audience cannot read everything that’s on the page, identify detail from nuggets. So, he/she relies on the presenter’s story. But the presenter cannot deliver an authentic presentation about what really matters, because he/she fears leaving anything out!

As a result, many presenters sacrifice authenticity – focusing on what they feel personally is most important and how to present it to this specific audience – and instead try to share the excessively complicated message on each slide. That’s why speakers who almost never say “Um” when they talk to you begin doing so regularly when they present using such slides. With no simple flow to follow and feel comfortable about, the presenter’s mind “needs” to look at each slide to remember what to say. The “Um” before delivering each slide’s message is the brain having to figure out “um, what’s next?”.

Is there a solution? Yes. Follow the ADAP principles:

  • Clients hired you because they believed you are competent to do the research and provide insightful recommendations. Believe it too, and focus on how best to help them make the decisions that want to make based on the research.
  • The purpose of the client presentation is to enable them to make executive decisions. They don’t need to see all the details. So focus the executive presentation on the key points and conclusions in a 20 minute briefing. Then have a second Reference Report available with all the details nicely laid out, which the client can then go through to understand how you reached your conclusions. Indeed, the client may want to review the details at a later time. Your goal in the presentation is to give them the confidence that they now know what they needed to know in order to move forward.
  • One approach is to provide the “overly busy” slides in the Reference Report, which the client can read at his/her leisure, and instead provide a clean, simpler slide at the client presentation.
  • Also, use titles to communicate the key point of each slide. This way the audience knows where the story is heading and can either read the slide or just listen to you to get the additional details.
  • In sum, focus on your client’s need to understand and make decisions, and competently master the material. If you do, you won’t worry about whether you left something out – because you can address it in the Q&A. As we say in our training, LESS IS MORE. Present what the client must know, and then the client will feel more competent and confident about taking the next steps.

    Workshop Invitation!
    Executive Presentation
    Training Workshop

    Hosted by Jerry Cahn, Ph.D., J.D.
    Thursday, April 11, 2013

    Are your presentations really working for you? Is your PowerPoint making it easier for you to get the message to the audience, or are you working hard to overcome its flaws? Will you "get through this presentation" and then try to forget it – or will it be a stepping stone in making your career?

    Present like a Pro enables you to close more deals and enhance your career. Learn how to create an audience-driven Authentic presentation (ADAP), by mastering the 5 S's:
    • Substance: Include information that's important and eliminate distractive clutter
    • Structure: organize the material to guide audience decision-making.
    • Style: Make it engaging with great graphics and visual metaphors.
    • Setting: Respond to the impact of time and place on audience responsiveness.
    • Speaking skills: overcome fears, exude confidence & project a leader presence.

    During this program you'll practice by delivering your own presentation, and get feedback from video and the group. To promote your company, service or product - and your career, don't miss this workshop. To register for the Early Bird Special, click here.

    Yes, we also offer in-house corporate group training and one-on-one coaching. Share with us your needs and we'll find the right solution. Click here.

    2013 Keynotes & Workshops

    In 2013, Dr. Cahn and the Presentation Excellence Group are offering keynotes and workshops on the following topics for corporation, associations and other interested groups.

    For bookings, contact 646-290-7664 or

    Vistage "Best of the Best"

    Vistage New York last year published the 6 volume set of Vistage Select, a “best of the best” articles from Vistage Village's 6000 whitepapers. Feel free to download those that interest you. Also, share the links with colleagues who might appreciate them.

    Corporate Training Brochure!
    Click to download!

    For a Powerful, Inspiring Keynote Speaker in 2013, contact Dr. Cahn:

    Presentation Excellence, Inc. * 31 East 32 Street (3rd Floor) * New York, NY 10016 P: 646-290-7664 * F: 646-478-9435

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