She flipped on her PowerPoint and read a touching quote as she
sniffled with emotion. With the next slide she questioned whether
the quote was correctly attributed, then even whether it was
Slide three was supposed to outline the discussion topics ahead
of her. One topic was listed numerous times, another not listed at
all. She turned to her partner, Michael Gowin, calling his name and
perhaps hoping that he could somehow rescue her from the train wreck
that was her presentation.
It was all a ruse, a "what not to do" scenario.
What was actually going on was the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber
of Commerce's annual Lunch and Learn. The chamber has been doing the
Lunch and Learn for three years. The goal is to offer local
businesses new tools and training to make them more effective and
efficient in the workplace.
The first year the lessons were on using social media as a
marketing tool. Year two, the lessons were on saving money and going
green with new lighting designs. This year the lesson was on how to
prepare and present a more effective presentation.
The guest speakers were Michael Gowin and Mott, who own the
business Renovate Communication Design.
After talking briefly about what not to do, Gowin and Mott
engaged the group of approximately 15, asking to whom they actually
have to give presentations. The results of a survey of registered
guests beforehand indicated that most of the guests were spending
time addressing small groups.
Kristi Powell of Heartland College said her presentations were
often with students in groups of six or seven.
Andi Hake, executive director of the chamber of commerce, said
she addressed local organizations such as the Rotary, her board
members, and she also had to address larger groups.
Sonnie Alexander of Coldwell-Banker Cornerstone said she
addressed her agents, sharing general information with them and
talking about policy and procedure.
Another question on the survey asked the guests to evaluate their
current speaking ability. Gowin said no one had said they were "Bill
Gates Awesome" at speaking, but most of the group thought they did a
He then asked the group, when they speak what do they hope to
accomplish? The answers came back: understanding, to not bore them,
to see that "ah-ha" moment when what is being said becomes
Gowin shared that in general an audience will forget 90 percent
of what they hear.
However, there are keys to making a presentation more memorable,
and the purpose of the meeting was to share some of those keys.
An effective and memorable presentation will be entertaining.
Gowin said it is best to choose one big idea and not try to
introduce too many topics at one meeting. He noted that planning
ahead is a key factor. Know the group you will be addressing and
what you want them to do.
He talked about giving contrast to the topic, touching on
speeches made by Bill Gates at the introduction of the iPad, Martin
Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech that talked about what was and
what he wanted to be, and Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address,
where he began talking about the past in his introduction of "four
score and seven years," then offered the contrast to the present in
saying, "Now we are engaged in a great civil war."
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A second mistake preparers often make is that they move too
quickly into preparing PowerPoint presentations. Gowin said he
always gets organized on paper first, and that doing his actual
slideshow, if he uses one, is among the final steps of getting
To be effective, a presentation should be more than just a
presentation of facts; it should tell a story that the audience will
listen to. Make the facts rich with meaning and work toward evoking
an emotion. He commented: "We remember things we feel. When we feel,
we care; when we care, we act."
When you do get to the slideshow, use more pictures than words.
Gowin said the human brain is wired for visual information, and
pictures will be more effective than presenting "just the facts."
Gowin used two examples to drive home his point. He talked about
the organization Girl Effect and the work they do with young girls
in Ethiopia. He began by showing a slide of bulleted facts, and
after reading the slide to the group, he asked for a show of hands
on how many were moved to do something to help these girls. No one
raised their hand.
Next he presented a slide of a sweet little girl, nicely dressed,
looking healthy and happy, named Eva. He talked about Eva being
adopted from Ethiopia and how her new life would be better than her
He then showed a picture of a young girl named Mercy, who is
still in Ethiopia. He talked about the tough life she would live,
the education she would not receive, and the fatal diseases that
would more than likely take her life.
He added a slide of Eva and her new family, which is Gowin's own
family, and also showed a slide with Eva on one side and Mercy on
the other, offering the contrast he had spoken of earlier in a
When he was finished, he asked again, "Who was moved to do
something?" The majority in the room responded by raising their
Another example he used was a video clip from the show "Mad Men."
The scene involved a presentation introducing the slide wheel to
Kodak executives. The presenter used emotional hot buttons in his
presentation: family and good memories. He renamed the item from a
slide wheel to a slide carousel and evoked a more sentimental
feeling toward the product. In the end, his audience was spellbound
by the presentation.
Gowin said the presenter had told a story, offered contrast and
evoked emotion, which led to the end result he wanted.
Mott took over the presentation and talked about how to overcome
anxiety about public speaking, stressing that the key to doing so is
to be prepared, to rehearse and set your mind to it. She said to say
to yourself: "I care, I'm passionate, and I'm going to do it
anyway." She noted that Henry Fonda, one of America's favorite
actors, had terrible stage fright all the time, but he overcame it.
The two also touched on other methods and key points to giving a
good presentation and allowed time for comments and questions from
At the end of the hour-long session, they talked very briefly
about their website and told those in attendance that they would be
receiving a free electronic copy of their e-book, "Presentation
To learn more about Renovate Communication Design, visit their
[By NILA SMITH]