Monday 2 September 2013

12. HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.

This book is one of many business books put out by the Harvard Business Review and is authored by Nancy Duarte. In short, this delivers all it promises and more.

This book is impactful! As I read the book, I found that the techniques illustrated were creeping their way into my work and public presentations. In conversations with colleagues, I found myself referencing the book very often with my reference very well received and even to the point of asking for the name and author. To go one step further, a member of B2B books used this book as the foundation for a huge presentation to a high level and especially lucrative client. In fact, it was his biggest deal ever and he won it.

The most impactful them in the book was the idea of consistently illustrating the gap between the current situation or where one is and the desire situation. In a persuasive presentation one must always be emphasising this gap to combat resistance to change and hammer home the absolute need for change. In effect this creates a rhythm to the presentation which is easy to follow and likely to alter the viewpoints of your listeners.

Another concept that was not new but is worth repeating is brainstorming. When planning a presentation brainstorm all the best ideas possible and then throw them out and doing it again. Your first best ideas have already been thought of by someone else, so scraps them and go for something fresh. However, do not stop there. Bring in people from all around you to have a group brainstorming session and once again scrap the first round of ideas put everyone to the limit to get the best ideas possible. While brainstorming is a common techniques this idea of extended brainstorming is a great practice.

Moving on in the book, a chapter discusses how to prepare your audience. The atmosphere in the room, the lighting, the layout, and the music are some items to consider. There is also personal appearance to set the tone for the right message being sent to the right people. This goes hand in hand with your disposition; your passion will carry you and your humble attitude can demonstrate a lack of hubris. The most influential preparation is the sending of pre-presentation materials to attendees. This does not have to be strictly information. How about an short video introduction, an agenda, or what the audience should get of the presentation.

Looking at the book as a whole, it is a remarkable reminder of all you know to put into a presentation and a detailed guide of all the items you should include in a persuasive presentation. This is a book that has become a fixture in my office, but not on the bookshelf - on my desk.

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