Preparation is the key to giving a good “Presentation”!

Hello everyone. Last time, I wrote about how to develop “GRIT (the ability to persevere)” among the three qualities (1. Tacit knowledge, 2. Willingness to contribute to others and 3. GRIT) necessary for a good knowledge manager who are essential for successful knowledge management. And I also wrote about the idea of “Growth Mindset” that is useful for that.

This time, I would like to write about “Presentation” as another soft skill required for problem solvers. That said, this area has already been talked and written about enough, and there are so many books, websites, etc. So, the introduction of those references might be the focus;) , but I hope I would be able to organize the points well.

I think there are two main elements for Presentation. The first one is “Contents” and the second one is “how to speak”. I would like to write about each in order.

1. “Contents” for Presentation

The word “Present” has various meanings, but when it is used as “Presentation”, it means “to announce something” or “to tell one’s thoughts”, etc. Therefore, when it comes to “Presentation,” you need to have some “contents” to talk about. Aside from whether or not to use slide materials such as PowerPoint, the “contents” of the talk is important.

When thinking about the “contents”, “Logical Thinking” is important. Since this “Logical Thinking” is also talked about exhaustively, let me introduce a book here (I believe people working for consulting firms have already read it:) ).

The Pyramid Principle Barbara Minto

And the basic concept of logical thinking is “MECE”, which I wrote about on this blog before. Please be reminded this as well. You should be able to create a “Logic Tree” by organizing the contents to be discussed based on the concept of logical thinking and MECE.

"Logic Tree" example
Fig1. “Logic Tree” example Source:

Even if you speak it as it is, it would be a “presentation”, but in many cases, I think you would prepare materials such as PowerPoint slides. I think the contents would be something like this;

Create slides from Logic Tree
Fig2. Create slides from Logic Tree

On the first page, use “Logic Tree” to describe the big picture (storyline) of your contents. Then, from the second page onwards, include supporting facts for each of the messages that make up the storyline. From the second page onwards, it is common to put a “message (also called a lead sentence)” at the top of the slide and “facts” below it.

2. “How to speak” in Presentation

Once the “Contents” is ready, it’s finally time to “Talk”! This area has also been talked and written about exhaustively, for example, “Make eye contact with the audience in turn”, “Make gestures appropriately”, “Don’t sway your body left and right”, etc. I think these are quite true (however, whether it can actually be done is another matter).

And, here I would like to introduce you on how to use “Voice” from an interesting point of view. Check out this Ted Talk video from “Sound Expert” Julian Treasure (about 10 minutes, I recommend starting around 4 minutes. If you don’t have time, please skip and proceed to below directly).

The interesting part is the voice “toolbox”. There are 6 tools in the toolbox.

1. Register: If you want to emphasize weight, it would be better for you to speak from your chest.

2. Timbre: Even if your voice quality is not smooth, it can be improved with voice training.

3. Prosody: Voice inflection.

4. Pace: He says that silence is not bad, which can be emphasized by speaking slowly or by pausing.

5. Pitch: By changing this, the meaning of the same sentence might be changed (sometimes).

6. Volume: Of course this is important, right?

Finally, warm-up exercises before the presentation are also introduced, so please try them. 🙂

3. Why are there still people who are not good at presentations even though they have been talked about exhaustively?

Now, there is so much information about presentations in books and websites, but why are there people who are good at it and people who are not? As I wrote above, there is a difference between “knowing” and “actually being able to do it”. The only way to fill that gap is practice (lol). It seems that people who were said to be masters of presentations such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were busy rehearsing before important presentations.

Here are some points for practice.

a. Rehearse multiple times in advance

Reserve a conference room and rehearse a lot, preferably with some people in the audience. Ideally, it would be better for you to practice until you can memorize the contents word by word.

b. Record a rehearsal

Now you can easily record with your smartphone. Record yourself presenting and see what you need to fix. It’s helpful to have others point it out, but seeing yourself by yourself is the best way to know what’s wrong with you (lol).

I think there are many online presentations these days. In case of online, I think there is a function that allows you to record if you become the host of the meeting, so let’s host a test meeting and record it. You can see how you look on screen.

c. Remove filler words

If you record your presentation and watch it, you’ll notice that many people say “filler words” like “err~”, “um~” or something. If you remove these filler words, your presentation would be much easier to listen to.

Let me introduce one small practice method for “filler words” removal.

– Make a group of some people. Have the group stand around a glass half full of water.

– One person at a time, take turns talking about “a glass half full of water” for 30 seconds. It doesn’t matter what you talk about (but no filler words!).

– If you can speak for 30 seconds without a “filler word”, you can have a seat. However, if you say even one word of “filler”, you’re out! Move on to the next person. It’s a game where the last person who were standing loses.

If you do this, you will become conscious of the “filler words” and you can gradually remove them.

Finally, watch a Ted Talk video by Daniel Pink, who were chief speechwriter of the former US Vice President Al Gore (about 18 minutes). It’s a little long, but it’s a spectacular presentation that makes full use of “eye contact”, “gestures” and the “Voice Toolbox” introduced this time.

That’s all for this time, and I would like to continue from the next time onwards. Thank you for reading until the end.

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