These mistakes have no place in your presentation. Know how to avoid and fix them with the help of seasoned speakers Dan Dobos and James Schramko.
01:43 – The good thing about mistakes
03:25 – What have you got to say?
05:52 – Strange things at school
07:20 – Originality has impact
09:09 – What’s a presentation for?
11:33 – Focus on you, not your slides
17:56 – Aspect ratio counts
18:27 – Persuasion according to Aristotle
21:15 – It better be damned good
22:56 – Why you can’t wing it
24:35 – Context and relevance
26:52 – How do you present yourself?
28:55 – Get rid of this common stage prop
30:28 – You can be too clever
33:06 – The element of mystery
36:19 – Are you asking this question?
38:31 – When engagement is counterintuitive
40:00 – Supporting the sale
43:24 – Transferral of trust
46:43 – Presentation leverage tactics
49:57 – Primacy and recency
53:44 – Two questions that prompt action
55:09 – An easy way to get more leads
55:44 – Summary and recommendation
See Dan Dobos take the stage at SuperFastBusiness Live
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James: James Schramko here, welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. I hope you’ve been enjoying this podcast. There’s plenty more episodes coming. Today, we’re covering all the mistakes that presenters make when they’re putting a presentation across, and I’ve invited back a real expert on this topic, Dan Dobos from LeadMachine. Welcome back.
Dan: Thank you mate! Great to chat again.
James: Now, you’ve been back several times. It appears that the discussions we’ve had in the past have been really well received. We’ve talked about selling, we’ve talked about productivity, and today we’re talking about mistakes. I think this is one of your passion topics, isn’t it?
Dan: Mistakes or presenting? [laughs]
James: Mistakes. From a branding perspective, when I think of you, I think of your very raw, critical analysis, which is why I have you on my feedback radar when I want to know how something is going or where we’re at. I just say, “Dan, just lay it down for me. Give me the honest truth.” And you pull no punches. You just go straight into it.
The good thing about mistakes
Dan: I think the good thing about mistakes is that it’s that idea that people seem to respond more to things they need to avoid, I suppose to pleasure that they can derive. It seems like we respond more to avoiding pain than deriving pleasure.
James: It’s like that new saying, “If it bleeds, it leads.” People are drawn to drama and chaos. You use mistakes as one of your key points in the framework for when you’re actually structuring presentations, so maybe we should talk about that. I thought what a good framework might be for this discussion is: how about if you think about all of the presentations you’ve seen, and I think about the presentations I’ve seen.
And when we say presentation, I’ll just defne that, it could be a webinar, it could be a sales video of slides, it could be a live presentation; and I had that in mind when I was thinking about this because I have seen lots of those, but it’s when you’re being presented something with the idea that you’re supposed to be moved to a certain outcome.
What things have you considered as mistakes? If you make a list of things that you would consider would be mistakes, and I would make a list of things. Maybe we can just share mistake each, take turns on this, and see if we can come up with a few insights as to how you might go about recognizing these mistakes when you see them. And if you’re doing them as a presenter, perhaps you can try our suggested solutions and see what that does in terms of your results. How about that?
Dan: Sounds good.
James: All right. I’m going to let you start with a mistake. I’ll let you have the upper hand here Dan.
Mistake #1 – Nothing to say
Dan: [laughs] You’re very generous man. OK. I think one big mistake, I won’t say the biggest, but it’s up there, is that people don’t actually have anything to say. They get on stage, they’ve done a bit of reading or a bit of research, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it’s original research. But a lot of presentations are just regurgitations of existing material. It’s kind of why every university lecture, not every university lecture, but a lot of university lectures, they just have that crappy feel because they’re not really talking about experience.
I think the best presentations come when someone can share an experience, where they’ve been on a journey and through that journey, they’ve learned some lessons. So it’s not theory, it’s real stuff.
James: Maybe that’s what makes this sort of podcast so inspiring and educational. We are talking about our own real life experiences in the trenches, and certainly has been one of the success factors of the podcast that I do that is purely case studies. I think people really resonate with true stories.
Dan: Definitely. And look, I’d be the first to confess when I started presenting, that’s exactly what I did.
James: It’s because everyone does it that way.
James: There’s whole schools on that. There’s whole schools that say, “Just package up this stuff,” and their whole training is homogenized rewrites of other people’s stuff. In fact, there are gurus whose entire business is founded on just taking what’s out there and repackaging it with new phrases.
Dan: Yeah totally.
James: It’s amazing.
Dan: I know. It’s hilarious. And it’s a bit sad, really. If that’s all you’ve got.
The fix – Talk from experience
James: Just one thing on that, one thing you did mention is that people should share a story of the triumph and the journey. I mean that sounds like the hero’s journey framework, which is certainly not original. You’re not saying that we have to have an original structure to the content, but the content should be original.
Dan: Absolutely. I think structure, you want to use a proven process. I don’t think you want to innovate too much there, though it’s always good to innovate. But I think that the whole point is you want to be talking from experience. You want to have something that’s different and unique that you’re bringing to the table. If you’re just summarizing other people’s stuff, well what’s the point?
And really, very much related to this whole point is, I think the reason why people do it, and certainly why I did it when I first started is, I was really scared. I thought, who’s going to listen to me? I’m going to use all these statistics, I’ve got to justify everything. And unfortunately, that’s something we’ve very much been brainwashed at school, is to not have an opinion, to follow the rules, to not make too much noise. Unfortunately if you’re doing that as a presenting strategy, that’s a big fail.
James: Oh, they do strange things at school. I haven’t had the same experience as you because you were actually in the education market for school kids, so I know you’re highly qualified on this. I’m only talking as a parent. I’ve had arguments with teachers about things that they do.
For example, they criticized my daughter for taking a presentation that she did and then using the same topic for a written submission. They actually penalized her for repurposing, whereas in the real world, that’s considered something very clever. And they do seem to have a high level of emphasis on research. It’s always research. Go and look up this stuff and document it back without copying word for word from Wikipedia seems to be a recurring theme at school.
Dan: Yeah. And the problem with that is, there’s nothing wrong with research. It’s good to understand what’s out there. It’s good to learn and that’s a positive thing. But the negative thing is when you don’t add anything to it, when you lose your voice. And if you lose your voice, it’s really hard to justify any form of presentation.
James: I think sometimes putting something real or original is so unexpected that people kind of can’t comprehend it. I remember another situation where my daughter handed in a project. The project was she had to write a book, come up with a story.
She handed in her project and the teacher said, “Oh honey, sorry. Look, you have to do your own work. You can’t just hand in someone else’s.” And she goes, “Oh this is mine.” She goes, “No. This is a book. You can’t hand in someone else’s book as the story. You have to put in your story.” She goes, “No, that’s my story. I’ve written and illustrated it and produced this book.” And she had run the online print on demand, how she’s actually printed her book and gave it to the teacher and that just blew them away.
And they were talking about it years later when I go to a parent-teacher night. They’d say, “Oh, I saw your son’s book.” I’m like, “What book? What son’s book?” And they go, “Jordan.” I’m like, “No, that’s my daughter.” Well those are unisex names. But the teachers had passed it around the common room and it was so out of this fear of what they expect. So that’s the impact you can have when you come up with something original and you pour all of your energy into it.
Dan: Yeah. And I think the problem is that a lot of the time, we’re just a bit scared to have an opinion. We sort of, what if someone disagrees with me, or what if I’m wrong. If you’re wrong that’s good, too. You are going to be wrong. You are going to do presentations and if people disagree with you, that’s good because then there’s some learning from there.
I think half the journey is just summoning the courage. Just say, “You know what, I’m actually going to think about this for a second and I’m going to have an opinion.”
James: I think if you go to the core idea of a presentation, my understanding is that, simply the purpose is to move someone from where they are at the beginning when you start the presentation, to where they are at the end. And quite often, to move someone, you’re going to have to create some conflict or some tension to create some emotion or to make them think about things. You don’t want to make them think too much like paralyze them.
Mistake #2 – Too much information
And I’ll launch into a one mistake here. This mistake is where people, especially rookie presenters, are packing way too much information into a presentation. And the idea is that if you were to try and put across one or two major points and have someone agree with you on that as a presentation, in this case, they might put in 50 things and you just paralyzed the audience. They don’t really know what to make of it.
And then if you combine that with a subsidiary mistake to this, which is when the rookie presenter gets up and says, “I don’t have a lot of time so I’m just going to go really fast.” The audience does a collective groan like, “Oh, seriously?” And you know you’re about to get unloaded on with this barrage of pfffftt, and you got no chance.
The fix – Have one idea
Dan: I would suggest that the best presentations have just one idea, one overriding thing. I’m not saying to only have one point. But if you boil the presentation down, it has an essence, it has a soul, and I think that that’s important.
James: That’s what we’re doing here. When we had our little discussion about what to talk about, we thought, of all the things we could talk about, wouldn’t it be good just to talk about all the things that people are doing wrong? We’ve got one core idea and that is the mistakes that are just killing people’s ability to present well. If we could just cover those and someone was to say, “I’m not doing this, this, or this,” they’re probably going to do quite well with the presentation, without us talking about or focusing on all the 7 steps to do a perfect presentation correctly from the beginning. We’re just knocking out the huge holes in the bucket.
Dan: For sure.
James: All right. Hit me with a mistake.
Mistake #3 – Slide deck disconnect
Dan: Next mistake is very much related to slides, and there’s probably about 7 mistakes I’m sure we could discuss here. But the mistake that I would like to raise, which is a slightly subtle one; I see this all the time and I just wish people understood this, but it seems like even really smart people they just don’t get this idea, which is that you’ve got text on your slide, and obviously you don’t have too much text, which is a separate mistake.
But let’s just say you don’t even have that much text. Like you’ve got a bit of text but not that much. So it’s not a terrible slide. But what people do is they show all the slides; they show all the text, and it takes someone, maybe even if it’s only 5 or 10 seconds to process that slide. And instead of saying and actually going through the slide with the person, they’ll actually say something totally different.
So what happens is that the audience is looking at the slide, and they’re reading the slide, and the presenter is saying something totally, not totally different but building on the slides. So they’re not saying the same thing as the slide. They’re trying to read, the presenter is speaking, everyone is doing different things. There’s no synchronization.
James: And this is usually caused because the speaker is not prepared or professional enough to be able to present without the word on the slide; therefore, it’s a crutch. Really they’ve turned it into karaoke.
James: They need to be able to see the slide to know what to talk about. It’s very closely related to the one where the presenter is facing the screen for the entire show and not the audience because they don’t knows their stuff.
Dan: But even karaoke is not as bad as this. Because even if you read the thing, at least you have that synchronization.
James: Right. It’s even worse than that. You’re talking about a complete disconnect.
Dan: Yeah. I actually saw a presentation last night, it was actually a good presenter. It was a great person. At the end, she left quickly but I would have told her. The point is that people just don’t realize that this is a symphony. You and your audience, they need to be on the same page. And so, the whole point is, you want to show them the slide, but even before you show them the slide, you want to be talking the point. The whole point is that you’re in charge. You’re the person, they’re focusing on you, you’re not reading the slide. That’s actually a separate mistake, really.
James: Yeah. That’s the technique of talking about the slide and then revealing it.
The fix – Be the focus
Dan: Exactly. So the whole point is that it’s you that they’re focusing on, not the slides.
James: And you and I have spoken about this before. You gave me some feedback many years ago on this. I’ve quite often delivered entire presentations without a single word on the slides, just pictures. That is because you can’t misinterpret a word, it’s not there. They’re forced to look at me and hear what I’ve got to say about it because they’ll get images and ideas from the picture, but my words will support that and enhance it.
Dan: You know a funny story related to this is I once had a seminar, which was a 1-hour introductory seminar, and it was very unfortunate that we had this terrible traffic jam in Melbourne, and as a result, both myself and everyone that was actually helping in the seminar, there were 2 or 3 other people, and we were all late. So imagine a room with 80 people in it and no stuff.
So no projector, no screen, just people sitting in the room thinking what in the world is happening, you absolute losers. So we managed to send them a text message. We said, “There’s been a traffic jam. Please drive safely. We will start shortly.” And anyways, we got there. It was horribly embarrassing. I did the presentation at the start. I was there before the helpers; unfortunately they’re all late. And I just had to start, obviously there were people and everyone was there waiting. I knew the presentation fortunately by heart, and so I just went. Then the person came in with the projector and eventually we had half of it with the projector and half of it without.
The funny thing about this presentation was, I got one of the highest conversion rates ever from that presentation. And I was thinking afterwards, why was it like we were total losers at the start by arriving late. Maybe they felt sorry for us, that might have been one thing. But the other thing that I really got from that was that there were no slides at all. So what it did is it was all about me and it really meant that the credibility and the character of the presenter was a lot,. lot more enhanced than when you have the slides. You got the person looking at the slides and looking at the presenter and there’s that mix of things.
And as a result of that, one of the things that I’ve actually started to do is that whenever I have a slide, I’ll actually try to show it for the minimum time possible, and I’ll try and black it out. So I’ll show them the slide for exactly the point that I want them to see it. So I’ve made the point, I show the slide that reinforces then I black it out. So they go straight back to me. So having that focus on you, really I believe, does have a big impact.
James: Fantastic. I’ve got a few things just to cover off on that. Just on this topic, while we’re here and it’s low-hanging fruit for let’s just say, if you’re whacking up 10 lines of bullet points, you’re way off track.
James: The first thing an audience member does, they switch away from you, they look down to their piece of paper, and they start writing like a maniac, trying to keep up. There’s no chance that they’re processing what you’re saying. You’ve now made it the bullets and the content on the slide the focal point, and almost the poor cousin to this one is when you say, “There’s a lot of notes here. Don’t worry about writing it down so much. I’ll give you the handout of this presentation afterwards.” And now it’s like, OK, you’ve just given the audience permission to completely switch off all together. So that doesn’t really help people learn or get progress.
The other thing, a little pet hate that I have is the aspect ratio of the slides. I know it sounds trivial but the old 4×3 slides just don’t rock my world anymore. I like a 16×9 aspect. It’s just in keeping with modern screens, and modern media, and that’s sort of more rectangular style of slides; I think it’s visually more acceptable. Do you have a thought on that?
Dan: Yeah. I agree. I prefer that as well.
Ethos, Pathos, Logos
Dan: The other thing that I think is relevant to what we’ve just been discussing is actually something we mentioned in another podcast, but I think it’s really relevant here is this whole Aristotle view on what makes something persuasive, and he says that there’s “Ethos, Pathos, Logos.” Ethos is your character, Pathos is the emotion that you bring out in people, and Logos is the logic.
And basically, they’ve done lots of surveys since then, and they found that the character in who you are accounts for something like 92% of how persuasive something is. The emotion is about 7%. The 2 sometimes get tied together, so maybe it’s more than 7%, there are arguments for that. But the logic is almost totally irrelevant. If you can prove that you’re credible and say something that’s emotionally engaging, the actual logic of it.
And often, you see people; they buy things and they do things, which are totally irrational for that exact reason. So the points that we’re making about slides, the points that we’re making about talking from experience, they’re very much aligned to having something that develops your character. Showing the slides as little as possible so it’s about you, talking from experience, having pictures that bring out emotion. So it’s very much stuff which Aristotle has made the point thousands and thousands of years ago.
James: It’s fantastic. You know, when I first started my business when I still had a job, I reinvested the money back into a laptop. And my first consulting gig as a moonlighter, with my boss’s permission I might add, for $4,000 was to deliver a workshop on sales training; a half day workshop for financial planners. I rocked up with my laptop and the guy in charge of the projector wasn’t in and they couldn’t open it so I delivered my first presentation without a laptop that I bought to deliver it. That was the laptop that I used to start my online business. Luckily, I’d rehearsed and practiced the presentation, I delivered it to a test group the week prior, and I printed off the presenter’s notes.
A tip for new presenters
So if you are new at this presenting stuff and you haven’t delivered the thing many, many times, it’s always handy to have a print off of your slides nearby that you could put on a lectern in an absolute emergency so that at least you know what the presentation is even if you’ve got no electronic aids at all.
I’m thinking about this as I go to my mastermind event in just 2 weeks, I’m not getting a laptop or a projector. There’s no electronic media. It’s all foot pods and speaking directly. And I know, as you said, the character and the message is going to be very clear cut because there’s zero distractions. It’s pure focus.
Mistake #4 – Not doing the right prep work
Dan: I think the other thing that I’d take from that story James, which was something I was going to mention, is that a lot of people think that you just get on stage and hopefully, you’re charismatic, and you can pull it off. And they don’t realize the amount the energy and the amount of effort.
A mentor of mine when I started to really get into this presenting and these presentations, he gave me this metaphor. He says, “If you are going to have 100 people in the room, that’s 100 hours of time. So 100 hours of time. Let’s look at that. That’s 2 and a half working weeks. So you’ve got 100 hours of time, which you are in charge of. It better be damn good! Because otherwise, you’re throwing 100 hours of time down the toilet.” It really stuck with me that idea; that you do have this responsibility, you have these people in front of you. And you know, when you’ve got an event, a 2 or 3 day event, you work that out.
James: [laughs] I’ve got 170 people for 2 days and 31 for 1 day; I’m the custodian.
Dan: Yeah. So do the numbers on that. Well, send that to all the presenters and say, “This is the responsibility we have.”
James: Well, as you know, I do send a brief to the presenters and aid them at about curating the content, controlling the ideas that are presented, receiving the information well in advance to be able to make modifications. I have literally rewritten 30% of the presentations that has ever been put forward to me to present at my own event through being a curator of a minimum standard because I want someone to come away with a specific outcome, and I want them to get value.
Dan: Yeah, and I think that’s great. But I think really the point here though is if you’re just starting out with presenting, or if you’ve only done maybe 5 or 10 presentations; (I’ve probably done over 1,000, I’ve definitely done over 1,000 presentations), we’ve got this event coming up and it’s a 50 bit of presentation, I believe it is; and to me, I’m going to spend, I don’t know, 3 hours, 10 days. It’s going to be a lot of lot of work.
I think people don’t really realize that it’s not something where you can just wing it, and pull it off, and hopefully sound good. Sure, once you’ve developed the presentation and you’ve done it many, many times, it’s the same presentation, you can leverage off that. But for most things, if it’s a brand new presentation, there’s a whole heap of work and there are no shortcuts to actually getting to that level.
So the mistake I think people make there is just thinking that they can do it in a much shorter period of time than it’s realistic.
James: Yeah. Thank you for handing me that mistake because the mistake I want to highlight here is not doing the right prep work and that’s all the same.
The fix – Prepare as early as possible
I start building my slide deck after my event in preparation for the next year. I copy across my slide deck and I start adding ideas to it during the year as things come up that I think would be very, very important. And then I’ll curate and prepare them, and by the time I get to the event, I know exactly what I want to talk about, and I will have run it over through my mind, sitting out in the lineup out surfing, you have to curate.
Mistake #5 – Presenting generic material
And probably like you, when I’m speaking at different things a lot, I’ll never present the same material twice because I’ll do my research and I’ll find out who’s in the room, and I’ll find out where they’re at, and I’ll find out what the relevant context is for them.
In my industry, you could go from complete novice, who has no idea what a landing page is, to a highly competent technical group who all know what a landing page is, and they want to know the next level of detail like remarketing code, and cookies, and how to go and fiddle campaigns with them, versus a “why you should you have a website” type of audience.
It’s critical that you put the effort into being able to meet someone where they’re at so that your message has the highest impact. The 2 words that come to mind there: context, you’ve got to be able to fit in to where they’re at contextually; and relevance, you have to be important to where they’re at right now for them to be able to value what you’re sharing with them, and to be able to move them. It’s got to be relevant to them.
Simple solution: Poll the audience
And that’s why, a really simple thing to do is to poll the audience. If no one prior to you has done it, it’s very simple to poll the audience early on, your first few minutes, to get an understanding of who you’re speaking to if the promoter is not able to provide you that information, if you’re not sure who you’ve got, at least poll the audience, and then you can tailor.
This is the other thing that preparation allows you to do that you can’t do if you wing it. If you know your material down cold, if you’re really truly an expert, you can now tailor your presentation and tune it into the audience. It’s like you’ve got the guitar and the strings and you’re close to the mark, but now you just fine tune it to be pitch perfect for that audience and they’re going to hear that lovely melody of your presentation.
Dan: I think that’s exactly right because if you know the presentation so well, what should happen is that you’re doing that type of thing, you’re asking them about who they are, and you’re also listening and you’re engaging, there are going to be differences and you don’t exactly know what’s going to happen, that’s why they call it presenting because you’re not just running a script, you are also responding.
Mistake #6 – Wearing a “costume”
James: Yeah. And this goes right through to everything. It’s even you presenting things in the right way that makes them respond the most, and it could come down to attire, even the way that you dress.
I went to a presentation about 1 year ago, and this is fairly popular guy in the Internet marketing space, and he built his whole persona around this surfing culture. And then when I saw him present, he’s all dressed up in a fancy suit and a tie, and it was such a disconnect. I’m thinking, who are you doing this for? Why are you talking about a lifestyle business, and showing us all these videos of you in shorts and a T-shirt? And now you’re in a fancy suit. It’s like you’re dressing up to trick me.
Dan: You’re not going to be wearing a suit at SuperFastBusiness Live? [laughs]
The fix – Be (the best version of) yourself
James: I’m not going to be wearing a suit. I’ll be well-groomed. I’ll be clean-shaven, and I will have a nice T-shirt and jeans, and I will have footwear, but I think that that’s just me being me. And as you said, character is very important, and I think the audience needs me to be me to feel comfortable with my message.
If I turn up in a tuxedo, they’re going to think it’s a James Bond fancy dress theme, maybe? Which is the only time I’ve won a tie since I left work several years ago. I used to love buying fine clothing, I’m not into dressing up in a suit. I’d rather dress in a wetsuit. You know, different, different situation.
Dan: Yeah. I know for sure. And I think related to this idea of engaging and understanding the audience is if you do as you say that little poll, what it does is it says to the audience that you’re actually respectful of them, you’re listening to them, they feel understood, “OK. This person is going to try and give us what we want,” so I think that’s useful for that reason as well.
James: Very cool. All right. Have you got a mistake you want to counter with?
Mistake #7 – Using lecterns and other background distractions
Dan: Another mistake is the use of the lectern, which is in some ways, if you think of all the different distractions, the slides, the lectern; if you’re standing behind the lectern, what does that do? It’s a barrier, stops connection. So that’s something you want to avoid.
The fix – Avoid lecterns and set the stage right
James: Yeah. We don’t have lecterns at my events. It does confuse the staging people because most people do have it evidently. The other thing that I’ve noticed, always the staging crew and the video crew, they say to me afterwards, “This was a really good event. We’ve enjoyed doing this one. The information was fascinating.” So I think all that work into setting the staging.
And by the way, do you know how expensive it is to have curtains, and microphones, and stage lights, and stuff? It’s mind numbingly expensive to have the dressing for the set but it’s all designed to make the highest impact from what’s on the platform to literally turn the spotlight on to that talent for the highest impact without the distractions of weird stuff in the background. Those big black velvet curtains block out distractions. The good lighting increases the intensity of the presenter so the person is easily visible. These things are little fine touches that tune up and color in a fantastic presentation.
Dan: Yup. Definitely.
Mistake #8 – Sounding too clever
James: OK. So let’s talk about another one. I think as a speaker or a presenter who’s too clever is I find very annoying.
Dan: What do you mean by that?
James: I thought you might say that. What I mean by that is: it’s very common for a presenter to ask the audience questions that are very clever questions that require a specific answer, and they don’t get the answer they want from the audience because the audience doesn’t know the answer, and if they do, they’re shy to say it in case it’s wrong. And then if someone says the wrong answer, the presenter very authoritatively says, “Nope! Try again,” or “Wrong answer.”
They do this because they want to show how clever they are and how you need them because they’re so clever. But what it does, and this is why it’s a mistake, it drives a wedge between the person and the audience, and it says, “You’re not as smart as me. So probably all the things I’m telling you are going to be wasted on you because you’re so dumb.” It doesn’t build rapport or bonding. You don’t even like the person and liking is actually one aspect of selling that can work in your favor.
The fix – Let your audience show how clever they are
So what I got taught by a very smart speaking expert was, tell them the answer and then ask them the question. Because then, they can show you how clever they are, and they can feel smart, and now they like you as well because they’re enjoying this game. It’s an easy game. It’s fun and they’re responding, and you’re able to check in that they’re on the same page.
Dan: Yeah, interesting. 2 points come to mind. The first one is that yeah, I never understood those people. It’s as if they feel insecure and they have to try and make themselves feel a bit better, and it kills connection. And really, what’s so much more effective is to actually talk instead of about how good you are, about your mistakes. Be about how I did this and I failed, and this is what I learned. And that’s what gets the audience to go, “Wow. There’s someone who’s been through a process or journey. There’s an experience. There’s something he’s learned, and instead of me having that mistake, I’ve learned it vicariously through his or her experience.”
James: Yeah. I would rather experience mistakes that someone else has made and they just tell me the answer rather than have to do it.
Dan: Exactly, than say, “Look how dumb you are?” It’s horrible. Now the other thing that’s interesting though that’s slightly a different angle on this where you talk about being clever; I actually have one tool, which I think is very underused, which is different to being clever; it’s a very important distinction because it may get confused, which is this concept of mystery. I think that if you can add some mystery into your presentation, that can be very useful. I’ll give you some examples.
For example, in one presentation, I talk about different principles. So for example with memory. I talk about how there are 5 principles. In that, what I’ll do is I’ll go through each of those principles, and then at the end of it, I’ll say, “And guess what?” The mistake I made when I did this; the first word was visualization, then it was association. So for the visualization, I put a big V, and for association, I put a big A, and I was gradually building up the word VALUE. But it was so obvious because you’ve got the V-A-L-U, obviously the next one was going to be E. So I sort of ruined the surprise.
So what someone thankfully told me was they said, “No no no, you shouldn’t be doing that. Just go through the principles, visualization, association, location, unusual, emotion, and then at the end, reveal the world VALUE. And so, let the audience enjoy the pleasure of that surprise.
James: And of them actually feeling like they’ve almost discovered something and pretty much worked it out for themselves.
Dan: Yeah, some people do work it out. Not many. But they enjoy. “Oh yeah, there’s a word. OK cool.”
James: And I think just by way of illustration here, what I was talking about with clever, and I should give an example, is if the difference between you getting up and saying, “So how many different aspects to memory are there? Who’s got an answer? Come on, call it out.” Someone goes, “Three.” “No.” “Seven” “No.” “Five?” “Yes.” Right, that’s where you’re making them cold guess something they’d have no chance to answer, versus saying, “There are 5 memory techniques. OK. We’re going to write them down. Who can remember how many techniques there are?” And then they’ll shout out, “Five.” And you say, “Well done.” It’s ironic that we’re talking about memory because that’s what they’re just demonstrating; that they could remember that for the last 3 seconds. But it makes them feel like they’re participating.
Dan: Yeah, exactly. So that’s another point. Participation. Actually involving them as opposed to your example where you’re separating yourself from the audience.
James: Oh. And some people can go an entire presentation without engaging the audience once. They have this monotonal often, just dump, just brrrrr out for the whole presentation without checking in with the audience. I call it checking in. But you need to check in often. That would be using devices such as questions, and also to have a form of acknowledgement.
Mistake #9 – The wrong acknowledgement technique
And while we’re on that, this is a related thing; a lot of people do the acknowledgement technique of “Who here…” or by a show of hands, and I think that’s a mistake.
Dan: I’m interested. Tell me why.
James: Well, it’s impossible to answer that question. You think about it. You’re sitting in the audience, and you don’t know the guy 3 rows down or 4 rows back, so it’s not really a question you can answer.
The fix – Use the word YOU
But you can answer the question, “Put your hand up if you like the color black.”
Dan: OK. So just be more direct.
James: It’s using the word you. It’s the trick. When you’re in front of an audience, it looks like there’s a lot of people. So you start talking in plurals. But it’s the same rules as email message. When I send an email broadcasted to 27,000 people, I won’t send an email saying, “A number of readers have asked me to send this resource.” I’m not going to do that because I’m just giving the game away that there’s not more than 1 person. I’m going to use the word “you.” “I’ve attached the link to a video that I made for you.” I mean that’s more personal. It’s specific, it’s relevant, it’s got context; because now I’m communicating.
And that’s why when I learned this technique, and started presenting, and using the word YOU, and talking singularly, people would come up to me after my presentation and say, “It’s amazing. It’s remarkable. It’s like you’d read my mind. It was like you were speaking to me.” And I was speaking to them literally. Talking to that person on a leveraged basis.
Dan: Yeah. I think people just forget that at the end of the day, every communication is one-on-one. You’re always talking to a person. A group is not really anything you ever talk to.
James: Well you disconnect, the more group talk you do. You see it all the time. Like everyone sends emails like this, people present like that, and it’s such a mistake, and it’s probably one of the most fundamental things that will increase connection, which helps conversions a lot. And it definitely bolsters character.
Dan: Speaking of connection and asking questions, something interesting that I’ve discovered, which was quite counterintuitive is that this concept of interaction and how it can be a double-edged sword. So interaction I think is great if you’re doing a presentation that is purely about transmitting value. The only thing you want people to do is to enjoy the presentation, and it definitely adds more joy to people’s lives because they think, “Oh. I know the answer.” So there is that interaction and that’s good.
What I found though is that in a sales type situation, interaction, you need a little bit because you don’t want it to be totally too dark, but too much interaction in a sales situation can actually kill sales. And the reason for that is because when you do interaction, everyone says, “Well yes, I know the answer. I know the answer. I know the answer. Well if I know all the answers, what problem are you really solving?” So it’s been interesting.
James: Well, when I’m talking about engagement, I’m talking about techniques like, “Does that make sense?” “Put your hand up if you’re with me so far,” or “How’s the pace? Are we on track?” So these are easy ones for someone, because in their brain they have to answer that. They’re thinking about it. They have to respond. When you ask a question, you’re creating the requirement on behalf of the other person to respond, which means they’re checking in.
Mistake #10 – Not supporting the sale
What you just said reminds me of another mistake. This is that everything you do must support the sale. So often, I see a presentation where they’re putting something in there because they want to put it in there but it doesn’t support the sale.
Dan: If you’re in a sales type presentation, I think we need to make it clear that there’s different types of presentations.
The fix – stay on track and support the sale
James: No. I think everything must support the sale even if it’s not a selling presentation. If you’re doing a presentation for education, if you are trying to onboard users and have them perform a specific behavior of getting maximum success with the software they’ve just purchased for example, then everything you send them should be consistent with that. And so often, people send a message or use examples that take people way off the track. I’ll give you an example.
This is a pretty sneaky one, but let’s say you’re selling something that costs $5,000, which is pretty common from the platform. If you put examples all the way through your presentation of low cost items like $2, $10, $30, you’re creating all these reference points for very low amounts. And now, when you go for the $5,000 sale, it seems a huge amount by contrast.
Dan: Yes. So you use $60,000 and $100,000.
James: Exactly. You might say, “Look, if you want to go to Harvard, your education will cost $328,000, and it’s going to take you 6 years.” So these are using high reference points. This now supports the sale because you’re setting yourself up for a win. I’ve seen where people use low reference points. Like they’ll do something like, “Yeah sure, you can go online and find everything for free.” It’s like the exact opposite of a Harvard reference. You’ve now just set the reference pricing at free. $5,000 sounds pretty expensive versus free. Because they’re thinking, “Well I could save $5,000 so thank you for the option.”
Dan: [laughs] Yeah. “I must just take that option.”
James: So one action point on this would be to go through your presentation and see if there’s anything that you say in your presentation that goes against or away from the purpose of this presentation. Whatever you’re trying to sell, even if it’s the idea that someone should take a specific action, or that they might just like you, whatever that presentation is, if it’s a trust builder or whatever, don’t do something that takes away from. Like someone might be saying that they’re fantastic, they support charities, they go and rebuild villages in Haiti, da da da da, and then they’ll put a picture of their Lamborghini in the same presentation. And it’s incongruous because it’s not really supporting the sale. Now I’m confused.
Dan: There’s 2 different ideas.
James: Is he a charitable man? Or is he a capitalist entrepreneur? It’s hard to join them up sometimes.
Dan: The other thought that came to mind when you were mentioning these things is that one of the reasons I think why a lot of people feel that they don’t have the authority to actually make a point is because they just feel that, “Look. Who am I?” One way that you can really amplify your credibility is just if you can reference, just as you were mentioning about referencing high prices and Harvard, and then you show a low price; similarly, if you can reference various people that have been successful and link your ideas to these famous people like Warren Buffett and all sorts of people like that, even though you’re not saying quite the same thing, it automatically lends credibility to what you’re saying.
James: Yes. The trust is transferred. That’s why people appear really smart when they quote famous people.
Dan: Yeah. But you be careful though. You don’t want to be too… push this too far and you just end up summarizing people.
James: You push it way too far, you start getting a cease and desist letter from Richard Branson’s lawyer saying, “Could you please take that picture of you and Richard Branson down from when you paid $45,000 to visit his island and just not refer to him as your best friend Richard?” And some marketers have received that letter, which I think is hilarious, because they’re overusing that thing. I would have thought that everyone by now knows that that’s how the whole neck around thing works, but evidently not. People are going nuts for these posts. Picture with Richard is instant success.
Dan: Yeah. I think the way it works best is if you can spin off the idea. So you can say, “Here is how this has worked for Warren Buffett. Here is how he prioritizes his days. So when you’re prioritizing the way you do your marketing activities, how can we apply this principle?”
James: Yeah, that’s good. It’s like a variation of the “I-you,” and that’s a “he-you.” The I-you is where you say I like to make sure that I have solid routine. When you go about your daily routine, make sure you use a scheduling tool. So switch from I to you. But you’re using the “he-you,” which is another great way to segway from a famous person into a specific action that’s related to it.
Dan: I think it’s just a new application. At the end of the day, there are lots of really great ideas and time-tested principles, but a lot of the time, these time-tested principles haven’t been applied in interesting ways. So that can be a really good way of presenting something. Someone goes, “Oh, I know that point but I never really thought it applied here. That’s good.” So you see, you can get a lot of leverage in that way.
Mistake #11 – Using quotes wrong
James: One little mistake that I see people make is they overuse quotes that are not only used too often, but also aren’t actually based on fact. Like the one about some Harvard study about goal setting. The other chestnut is the Henry Ford quote about if I’d asked about transport needs, people say they would have wanted a faster horse. No one in the Ford family can validate that that ever happened. It keeps getting re-perpetuated.
Dan: Yeah. And sometimes they use like that in a totally wrong context. Even if someone did say it, it still doesn’t apply to the point that you’re making.
Mistake #12 – Not leveraging the presentation properly
James: So I think we’re going to roundup in a second. I’ve got one more that I think is important to mention, and I’ll see if you’ve got anything else as well. But this is one is about, this mistake is not leveraging the presentation properly. And I’m talking about either before the presentation, during the presentation, or after the presentation. A couple of examples on this.
The fix – Do optimization before, during, or after presentation
I know in the before presentation, you send people an incomplete set of material that they can fulfill by turning up to the presentation, so it’s a before presentation optimization. During the presentation would be any sort of supportive material or conducive environment to maximizing conversions, i.e. as simple as placing a sales desk between where someone’s sitting and the exit. It’s a very simple leverage of the room. And after example would be running a post-event seminar online for example to summarize the key points from the entire event that they could come and just leverage their learning that next step.
I’ve found when I run post presentation webinars, it’s really easy to make sales because you’re doing someone a favor. You could frame it like this: “Thanks for coming to the event. It was a wonderful few days. I actually took quite a few notes myself, and what I’ve decided to do is put my summary notes into a neat little presentation, and I’d love to share that with you live, and actually field your questions so that you can get the maximum value from this event. So I’ve set up an online training. If you’d like to go here and confirm your attendance, I’ll see you on the call.” Something like that.
And then you could go through, and you can actually resell each of the presenters’ packages if you are selling things, you can reiterate the main point or action step, it could be retention and a subscription membership. Obviously, I take the recordings from my event. Put them into SuperFastBusiness membership, where they are, the recordings from all my previous events pretty much are inside there for members’ benefit. And they can leverage their learning by consuming that content after the event, with transcriptions, with audio, and asking questions of not only me but other people who attended the event; how they’re applying it, what results are they getting. And this really increases their results. It’s a way that I can leverage an annual event into a recurring subscription, and it just works. And a lot of people just do their presentation and that’s it.
Oh, and one little side note on that, when I present at someone else’s event, I will usually run ScreenFlow on my computer, or record the audio with a Lav Mic and my iPhone, and I’ll give that recording to my team. If it’s the video, I can actually give it to my private mastermind members because it’s my content, or if it’s the audio, then I can have them transcribe it, and I can turn that into a blog post, infographics, or bullet points for my members. So I’m always repurposing any piece of content that I do.
Dan: Like your daughter. [laughs]
James: Like my daughter who got penalized by her teacher. But in the real world, it turns out it’s very, very clever.
The primacy and recency effect
Dan: Yeah. What you made me think of as well is this concept that in every presentation, in every process related to a presentation, there are some moments that are much more important than others. So we know that there is something called the primacy and recency effect, which is really just a memory concept, which says that if you memorize information, if someone gives you 10 pieces of information to remember, you’ll remember the first one and the last one a lot easier than everything in the middle.
So when you’re giving a presentation, it’s critical to be aware of that. That people are going to remember the start, and people are going to remember the end. So you’d better be pretty good at those parts. How are you going to start, how are you going to end. They’re going to matter a lot more than something halfway through.
James: When I learned about primacy-recency, it was very handy as a parent, and when I was selling motor vehicles. I put a lot of emphasis on how I ended conversations. And people do that terribly on the phone. When they’d say they’d leave a message and they’d say like a voice message, “Such and such. Here’s my number.” And then they’d say something confusing and vague at the end as the last thing.
I would always end on the phone number. Or if you’re phoning someone up say, “Hi. Calling from Mercedes-Benz of Sydney. My name is James.” And I’d emphasize the name because what would happen if they come in and they forget your name, and they’d pick up the next salesperson, they’d get the commission. So they had to remember my name if anything else, and I’d say my name last. “This is James. Hello. Welcome to Mercedes-Benz Sydney. My name is James.”
James: See how I used the recency?
Dan: Such accentuation.
James: Exactly. I’d emphasize it and punctuate. Boom! Like I’d jam it in there as the brain fodder.
Mistake #13 – Putting everything at the start
Dan: Awesome. The way I use this also is I think that this is a mistake a lot of people make is that; this are very useful near the start to give a bit of qualification. If you’re a racing car champion, and you’re talking about racing cars, it would be kind of good for us for you to tell us that at the start rather than at the end, and so we go, “We probably should have paid more attention. This guy’s a genius.”
The fix – Leave some good qualification stuff for your closing
So you definitely want to do some level of “Why am I qualified to speak about this?” But the mistake that I think people make is they put it all at the start. And what I found is that particularly when you’re selling from the stage and you want someone to take an action, you actually want to leave some really good qualification stuff about why you are the person to listen to right before you close, because they’re going to go, “Wow. This is this person.” And then you close with it. Similarly, if you’ve got something really strong or powerful, a really good point, put that close to when you close because that’s when people are thinking about the sale.
James: Oh! That reminds me of the most golden phrases in selling. It was right near the end where traditional selling people would talk about the close, and you’d say, “All right, Dan. Let’s just summarize this. We’ve gone through this, we’ve gone through that, we test drive this…” Just before someone orders their new car, I like to ask if they have any questions. “So Dan, what questions do you have?”
James: So it’s basically a presupposition that if they ask a question, they’re at the point where they’re going to buy. So it’s a really nice little way to finish out. It’s signalling we’re at the end here, and we’re getting closer to the result.
2 good questions to ask when presenting
Dan: OK. Interesting. The other thing I also mentioned just in terms of ending and starting, 2 really good questions to ask if you’re doing a seminar and you want people to take action from your seminar, is number 1: If there’s only one thing you could do differently from this session, what would it be? If you are going to leave today, and you are only allowed to do one thing, what would that one thing be? And the sort of flip of that question is: If there’s one thing that you need to stop doing as a result of being here today, what is that one thing that you’re going to stop doing? Just that idea. I think we’ve come back to it in several podcasts.
James: Oh, I think we even did it at my last event on your advice. You helped me come up with dedicating the last session to my event as the action taking session where we actually write things down and that’s exactly what’s going to happen at the next event that I have. I even have an action sheet that will be filled out on the spot so that an attendee is able to leave that event and get a result from it, which will maximize the value.
Dan: Yup. Beautiful. One last mistake from me because I think, are you wanting to finish up or have we still got more time?
James: No, I think we’re going to finish up just because we’ve covered some big concepts and I don’t want to make the mistake of putting too much content in one session.
Mistake #14 – Not leveraging leads
Dan: Let’s just do one last one. This is just an easy way to generate leads. At the end of the seminar, have a feedback sheet. Ask for people’s feedback. And then at the bottom of that, because most people are going to write positive feedback because of this idea of commitment and consistency, they’ve just done something positive, what are the names of 2 people who you think would like to receive this free report, which is related to the seminar, which the person who attends the seminar already gets. It’s just a beautiful easy way of generating more lead.
James: That is beautiful classic leverage of a positive sentiment. So Dan, you’re the guy with the fantastic memory. Would you like to recap today’s session?
Dan: I think we covered 17 mistakes, but don’t hold me to that number.
James: What? That’s outrageous if that’s anywhere close to the number.
Dan: We’d have to count.
James: Give it a shot if you want. I think this is our traditional thing. We’ve pretty much talked about presentation mistakes today in this episode. What are the mistakes we’ve talked about? How can you fix them up? Like what should you be doing instead of these mistakes? And we’ve given some specific action steps along the way. But maybe we could just do a little roundup. And I’m quite serious, if you can remember some of them, that would be wonderful. If not, I’d have to refer to my show notes here.
Dan: OK. We talked about from the start, not preparing enough. We talked about thinking that you can just wing it. We talked about talking from theory, repackaging instead of actually talking from experience. We talked about slides, and how there were about 7 mistakes just in slides. So I definitely think we got close to 17. We talked about the lectern. We talked about the difference between being clever and having some mystery. We talked about connection and engagement. We talked about a lot of stuff today, mate.
James: We did. I think we have done the whole listening audience. And there’s a general group term. I should probably rephrase that. We’ve done our listener a huge service if they are doing presentations and making any of these mistakes. The action step is to change what you’re doing to our suggested action, and see if you get a better result.
James: Dan, I’ve really enjoyed this podcast again. I love having you on the show as a regular co-host. I’m sure we could dig up some other topics for future episodes. Thanks so much for sharing and I’m looking forward to catching up at our live event.
Dan: Yeah definitely. I enjoyed it too. Look forward to seeing you soon.
James: No pressure or anything on your presentation of course.
Dan: I’m sure you’ll give me all the mistakes I made.
James: Take care.
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