Last week I shared a book list which we used to supplement our AMA (American Marketing Association) course on Integrating Competitive Intelligence into Marketing. In the cooperative spirit, this list continues with 3 books to help you spruce up your communication and presentation skills.
I love Advanced Presentations by Design: Creating Communication that Drives Action by Dr. Andrew Abela, associate professor of marketing at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He was the founding managing director of the Marketing Leadership Council, and is a former McKinsey consultant.
I had the good fortune to attend Dr. Abela’s full-day training session at the SCIP’s (Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals) Annual Conference in 2006. It is one of the most practical workshops I have ever attended and I couldn’t wait to use my new found skill as I re-wrote my SCIP presentation based on what I learned right away!
Professor Abela goes through 10 steps that are guaranteed to help you write a persuasive presentation. He starts out by making you think about the motivation, personality and communication preferences of those who will be in your audience and thus tailor your message and style accordingly.
As we went through his 10 steps to create an “extreme presentation,” I realized that I would have to re-think my presentation look to be more audience-centric. I had been creating Power Point decks to help me remember the points I wanted to convey rather than considering how my audience might want to be communicated with. And heavens my slides were laden with bullet points and lacked life!
Dr. Abela suggests two presentation styles: Ballroom for large groups of 100 or more, and Conference room, a 1-3 page handout for smaller groups. The Ballroom look is mostly pictorial and is a one-way communication, whereas the Conference room is more like an architectural drawing and is designed to engage and persuade your audience and to change their behavior.
I use both of Dr. Abela’s styles with a large audience at SCIP conferences since SCIP attendees tend to be analytical and like to take notes. I’ll present using the Ballroom style and give each attendee a one-page handout summary in Dr. Abela’s Conference room style so attendees can take notes.
Dr. Abela’s presentation book concentrates on the back room operations of presenting–that is planning and presentation creation—not delivering the talk. However, if you follow his format of either a Ballroom or Conference room format, you better know your material. In Ballroom, you are not reading bullet points, but showing pictures that tell the story. In Conference room, you have 1 or 2 handouts for a meeting which might run an hour. Again you better know your material since you can’t cram it all on a page or two.
The second book I recommend is: Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds and is endorsed by none other than marketing guru Seth Godin. “Please don’t buy this book! Once people start making better presentations, mine won’t look so good. (But if you truly want to learn what works and how to do it right, Garr is the man to learn from.)”
The third book is The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam. The premise behind Roam’s book is that anybody with a pen and a scrap of paper can use visual thinking to work through complex business ideas. This book is recommended by Dan Heath of Make to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Other Ideas Die who says, ““Inspiring! It teaches you a new way of thinking in a few hours — what more could you ask from a book?”