6. Presentation Skills (Start with the Heart), Pt.1

Communication is key. In working together. In selling ideas. In moving up into leadership. The key is to touch people. People are emotional creatures first, thinking creatures second. Keeping people emotionally invested right off the bat is key.

Show Notes:

  • Great Work Sells Itself as Long as You Don’t Unsell It
    1. Sorry, everything is selling. Internally, externally. Not everyone simply gets it.
    2. Selling is not beneath you.
  • Get On the Good Foot!

– James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother #1, The Man Who Never Left, Mr. Dynamite, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business

  1. Getting off to a good start is half the ballgame.
  2. That’s why I focus on the start. It’s your lift-off.
  • You’ve Got 5-10 Seconds to Defeat Their Phones
    1. Once upon a time, you had 5-10 minutes before your audience locked in or drifted off, but with phones, not anymore
    2. Every second counts. The clock starts before you even make introductions
  • Get Out of Intros
    1. They’re awkward speed bumps
    2. Like a Tarantino film, start in the exciting middle of the story and come back to the beginning later
  • Most of Us Think of Ourselves as Thinking Creatures that Feel, But We Are Actually Feeling Creatures that Think. – Jill Bolte Taylor, Brain Scientist
    1. This is why you start with the heart and move toward the brain
    2. No amount of data will overcome a client’s predispositions unless you make them feel the need for change
  • Try Not to Vomit
    1. Literally, try not to vomit. It’s memorable in the wrong way.
    2. Don’t vomit out all your thoughts at once, either. No one can keep up with an explosion of words and thoughts that only you inderstand. You may as well be speaking in tongues.
  • Questionable Tactics
    1. Not shady tactics, tactics that revolve around the power of questions
    2. Questions can get you off to a great start
  • Light Up Their Brains Like a Christmas Tree
    1. Scientists have placed electrodes on people’s brains to see how they react to questions vs statements
    2. Statements flatline the mind, questions light them up and make people want to not only listen but participate
  • Storytime
    1. Stories are tools for living
    2. They reflect who we are and inspire who we want to be
    3. Stories are memorable ways to get your point across


Welcome to Episode 6 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about talking. Yep, Presentation skills. If you’re like most people and hate presenting, remember this: It’s a great opportunity to shine. Star. And succeed.

Now when it comes to presentation skills, let’s begin here: Start with the heart and work your way towards the brain…Start with the heart and work your way towards the brain…We’ll expand on that shortly…

After 3 episodes focusing on leaders, it’s no coincidence that those who rise up the leadership ranks are almost always your best presenters. They may not be your smartest or your hardest working, yet their communication skills are what it takes to sell. Your agency. Your work. An idea. Hope. Now some simply have the gift of gab. Most, however, paid attention. Learned from the best (and the worst.) Then they put all those things into practice and added a twist or two. There are many ways to be a dynamic speaker. There are only a few miscues that upend most of us.

Great Work Sells Itself as Long as You Don’t Unsell It

There’s nothing sadder in the creative world than great work dying due to poor presentation. What a waste. Of time. And opportunity. The first thing to remember is this: Selling is not a dirty business. At least it doesn’t have to be. Yet many feel that selling is beneath them. A necessary evil. No, selling is part of your job. Get over any sanctitude. Fear. Or any other hang-up. Internally and externally, selling ideas is at the core of what you do.

Get On the Good Foot!

– James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother #1, The Man Who Never Left, Mr. Dynamite, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business

Watch any of his videos online, and you know that James Brown understood the value of getting off to a strong start. In my experience, getting off to a strong start brings you ¾ the way home. The rest will come. So, let’s get on the good foot with our very first step.

You’ve Got 5-10 Seconds to Defeat Their Phones

In the old days, you had 5-10 minutes to engage your audience before they would start to tune you out. Technology has shrunk that to 5-10 seconds before people seriously start thinking about checking their phones. Is it rude? Yes, and so what? That’s what you’re up against. You have to start strong or risk dreading the rest of the meeting as the faces of your clients get sucked deeper and deeper into their devices.

Get Out of Intros

Agency introductions suck the life out of the room. They’re a waste of time. Speed bumps that break your momentum. Instead, hand out a roster card with names, faces and pertinent information beforehand. Now if a client insists on introducing themselves and demands the same of you, try introducing one another instead. It’s a lot less embarrassing, and you can pimp your teammates far more than they can comfortably pump up themselves. Plus, it shows chemistry. Face it, you need every little edge, and mundane things like introductions are crying for creative help from people like you. 

Most of Us Think of Ourselves as Thinking Creatures that Feel, But We Are Actually Feeling Creatures that Think. – Jill Bolte Taylor, Brain Scientist

Realizing the preceding quote will go a long way in figuring out life. And why your E.Q. is as important or more important than your I.Q. It’s also why when it comes to presenting that I hope you’ll remember this: Start with the heart and work your way to the brain.

Try Not to Vomit

Some call it the set-up, the framing, the pre-ramble… Whatever you call it, at least do one. Many don’t. Instead, they stand up and immediately blurt out a stream of verbal vomit. Diving into executions without giving any context at all. It feels like a false start that leaves your audience bewildered and wondering which one of you is dumb. (Hint: They won’t choose themselves.) It hardly puts anyone in the mood to enjoy much less emotionally invest in or buy an idea or concept. This is why you start by introducing the idea and emotions behind the work.

Questionable Tactics

What if I were tell you that that there are more Latinos in America than Canadians in Canada? What if I were to tell you that the Latino birthrate outpaces the Anglo birthrate by over 20-1? And what if I told you that the Anglo death rate is outpacing the Anglo birth rate? Now what if I asked you where your next customer is coming from? Finally, what if I were to tell you that this is how I opened up a conversation to sell in Latino capabilities to a client? Would you be surprised that they bought it?

Light Up Their Brains Like a Christmas Tree

Science says that when you tell people something that their brains don’t react much. Electrodes show that our brains hardly light up at all. Ask people a question, or tell them a story, however, and their brains light up like a Christmas tree. Why? Because you’ve been invited in. Shown them respect. And now they want to participate. It’s a great way to open a conversation. It lights people up. And it shines a light on your mastery of the topic at hand. What kind of questions or stories would you open a conversation with?


Stories reflect who we are. And inspire who we want to be. They move us—emotionally. And that’s how you open someone’s eyes, by opening their hearts first. Start with the heart and move to the brain. People have to feel it before they truly believe it. That said, start with your stories and then prove why what they want to believe is actually true, before topping it off with an emotional close.

Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)

…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to one final thought today on presentation skills.

Storyselling: A Successful Pitch Open that Helped a Client Embrace Change

Instead of saying Goodbye, my 92-year-old friend, Arnold Penney, likes to say, Here’s to the future! As Arnie tells it, what he saw while fighting in WWII made him realize that the only way to go is forward. No wonder Arnie worries that his 68-year-old girlfriend may be too old-fashioned for him! Fortunately, this pitch hasn’t taken any casualties—yet. In fact, we’re so energized that we can’t wait to move your business forward. In order to do that, we’ll have to leave behind some of the old ways. So, in the spirit of Arnie, Here’s to the future!

Well, that about wraps up our six episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. And that amazingly is our 6th show. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.