10 Tips for Great Keynotes and Better Sales Presentations

PresentationRecently I was searching Google for a Keynote Speaker for Objective Management Group’s (OMG) upcoming International Conference in April.  In addition to the many speaker bureaus listed, I also read through a number of articles where the authors shared their secrets to great talks.  While a few were pretty good, most weren’t, and the secrets were certainly not very well kept.  I thought I would share some tips that you could incorporate into your group sales presentations, lunch and learns, conference talks and appearances to make them more effective.

  1. Slice It Up – Every presentation should have three sections – an attention-grabbing opening, a memorable ending, and the middle, where you make the points you want to make.  Example of the middle.
  2. Bring the Database – When possible, back up your findings with data and science.  Example
  3. A Picture is Worth All Your Words – I rarely include bullet points on my slides.  Just pictures.  Warning: My approach is not very useful if you need others to present your slide deck, but the “pictures only” approach helps to hold people’s attention.  Black/blank slides are good too, when you want them paying attention to only you.
  4. Bring the Popcorn – Before technology cooperated, I told stories for my opening and closings, but these days I show compelling and relevant short clips from popular movies and tv shows.
  5. It’s All about Them – It’s tempting to be the center of attention, but the reality is that if you want to be a top speaker or presenter, it’s all about your audience and how well you connect with them.  Example
  6. Get it Backward – Most presenters end with Q & A, but I believe that makes for a momentum breaker.  I like to talk for 5-10 minutes about my topics and then get the audience involved to learn what’s on their mind, what they would like to hear, and focus the rest of my talk to what’s important to them.  Example
  7. Know Your Role – They need you to be humorous, especially at your own expense.  Your humility should be in direct disproportion to the success you’ve achieved.  They need you to be entertaining, dynamic and animated.  If that’s not you, then get some coaching or you’ll suck at being a great speaker/presenter.  Vintage example
  8. Expertise is a Subtlety – Don’t tell your audience how much you know.  Demonstrate expertise through the questions that you ask of the questioning audience members.  Explain your answers in the context of their world, not yours.  Help them figure out what they should do, instead of telling them what you would do.
  9. Curious Challenges – If you don’t challenge their thinking or get them to think about something in a different or new way, you’ve wasted their time and an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from everyone else.  Do so with questions, more than with answers.  Example
  10. Timing – Be a closer and end on time!  There’s nothing worse than a speaker or presenter who continues beyond the end time.
I invite speakers and presenters, with tips of their own, to add them in the comments section.  All concise tips are welcome!