7. Presentation Skills (Heart to Head), Pt 2

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. Here are some additional ways to leverage what you got from the previous episode of this podcast.

Show Notes:

  • Rose-Tinted Glasses
    1. The Primacy Effect says people remember best what they hear first
    2. A strong start places a Halo Effect on the rest of what you show
  • Tell a Great Story with Numbers
    1. Data dumps suck
    2. No eyecharts
    3. Need to know vs nice to know
    4. Wrap numbers up into a story and as the legendary Tom Hansen said, you will become King S*#t of F%#K Mountain
  • Two Guys at a Bar
    1. Doesn’t matter how large or small your audience is, your presentation ought to feel natural, like two friends at a bar talking
    2. You don’t gain authority by trying to appear and sound like a god on a mountain. Don’t try to sound smart, be smart.
  • If You Can’t Explain it to a Six-Year-Old, You Don’t Understand it Well Enough. — Albert Einstein
  • Stop Reading the Telemprompter in Your Head
    1. Enthusiasm trumps perfection
    2. Don’t over-script your talk
    3. You’ll come across as a bad actor, robotic and stiff
  • No TLA’s!
    1. Jargon is the refuse of the lazy and insecure
    2. Jargon confuses people, stop it
  • Breaking the Chains of Keynote
    1. Slides are supposed to serve you, don’t be a slave to slides
    2. Beyond slides, there are other ways to get across an idea
  • People Will Forget What You Said, People Will Forget What You Did, But People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel.

— Maya Angelou, Poet, Speaker, Activist, Muse


Welcome back to the Episode 7 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 some more about talking. Presenting. And performing. What it takes to sell in more ideas to colleagues and clients.

On this episode, lucky #7, we’ll pick up where we left off last time, knowing that we’ve got to start with the heart before we can plant an idea in someone else’s head.

And to do this, it really helps to get off to a great start, so people see you through rose-tinted glasses.

Rose-Tinted Glasses

The Primacy Effect says that people best remember what they see first. That’s why first impressions often create a halo-effect. A positive glow that makes everything that follows look even better than it actually is. That’s a big part of why a strong start is so critical. You want your audience to put on their rose-tinted glasses upfront and look forward to the rest of the show. Which is why I always favor presenting your best work first. Now how else do you get off to a great start?

Tell a Great Story with Numbers

The best storytellers today know how to weave numbers into their stories. Not dull stats and factoids, but insightful numbers that paint a picture:

According to the Dailyinfographic.com, the U.S. uses 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides a year, but only 0.01 percent actually reach their intended targets.

The rest end up contaminating our food, air and water.

Now if you’re an environmentalist or manufacturer of a cleaner pest control system, those numbers paint a picture. A very vivid picture indeed. Which is why a numbers can be a great way to open your story.

Two Guys at a Bar

Whether you’re speaking with one person or a stadium full of people– minus the profanity– keep things as simple as two guys talking at a bar. And if you’re presenting creative, leave the stage directions to Steven Spielberg. When you’re bellying up, and someone asks how your weekend went, you don’t answer, We open on a wide shot of the state fair. Cut to a close up of our hero stuffing his face with a deep-fried corn dog. Just tell the story. If your concept relies that much on explaining technical features, you don’t have an idea.

If You Can’t Explain it to a Six-Year-Old, You Don’t Understand it Well Enough. 

— Albert Einstein

Don’t try to bamboozle people with big words and blathering. It’s the quickest way to get found out. Stay clear of jargon. And embrace peoplespeak. It’s your ideas and not your vocabulary that will impress people.

Stop Reading the Teleprompter in Your Head

Memorization is not presentation. That’s why it’s painful to watch someone literally looking up to their forehead trying to read word-for-word their carefully prepared text. And then when they miss a word or thought, they turn the page back instead of coming to it later. Stay present, not perfect. There will be parts of your talk that you want to memorize exactly, but mostly you should create a series of a few poles that guide you to where you’re going. In between, stay flexible and rely on the anecdotes and facts you know like the back of your hand.

No TLA’s!

I’m a pretty easygoing guy. That is until someone tries to thrust their TLA’s upon me. And honestly, can you blame me? Don’t they just turn your stomach, too? TLA’s, that is? Oh, you don’t know what a TLA is? Well, to clarify, a TLA is a Three-Letter-Acronym. Jargon. And they’re used and abused in presentations every day. They start as shorthand, but eventually they morph into some secret code showoffs use to show that they’re in the know. Really, the only thing I hate more than a three-letter acronym is a four-letter acronym. They need to go ASAP!

Breaking the Chains of Keynote

Slides can keep you on track. They can provide visual stimulation. And their abuse is the main reason why we suffer through so many lackluster presentations. There’s nothing more insulting or boring than someone reading off their slides word-for-word. What’s the point? Keynote has become a crutch. A security blanket. That’s why Jeff Bezos of Amazon has banned them, preferring the preparation of 1-5 page memos that everyone reads before gathering to discuss their content. An interesting alternative that won’t allow you to use all your tools to convince people.

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 the broadcast with one final thought on presentation skills. Right up front, I stated that you need to start with the heart and move towards the brain. Here’ a classic thought from poet & activist Maya Angelou that backs that up:

People Will Forget What You Said, People Will Forget What You Did, But People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel.

— Maya Angelou, Poet, Speaker, Activist, Muse

This is the thought that wraps up this section. There are many ways to communicate. But there is only one you. Find your voice by finding the tools that hack past what you want to say to how you want people to feel. Then use data and analysis to complete the journey from their hearts to their brains. Oh, and have fun. Presentations to you should be like gameday for an athlete. Prepare like one and you’ll start winning a whole lot more.

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

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. And that indeed is our 3nd show. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.