🌟 How to take a presentation from good to great

What the public speaking pros do to give their talks the WOW factor.

Do you remember the very first TED talk you ever watched? I do. It was by a supermodel called Cameron Russell and she taught me a very important lesson…

Your words aren’t always enough.

She walks onto the stage, introduces herself, looks awkwardly at the audience and says…

‘I feel like there’s an uncomfortable tension in the room right now,
because I should not have worn this dress!’

She spends the next 55 seconds of her talk changing her clothes; noting how lucky she is to be able to change what people think of her in a matter of seconds.

Notice how she pauses just before delivering her MicDrop moment:

Image is Powerful.

It’s no wonder Carmen’s talk has been seen over 40 million times. Watching it back now still gives me shivers.

By relying on words alone, we limit our potential for impact.

The speakers who create multisensory experiences for their audiences are remembered the most. So finding novel ways to bring props and demonstrations into our presentations can give us the edge. Especially when these experiences are used in conjunction with our words 🪄.

When Bill Gates opened his TED talk by releasing a jar of mosquitos into the theatre 🦟 he famously said:

‘There’s no reason that only poor people should have the experience.'

This idea is not restricted to big-stage presentations either. Props can bring everyday presentations to life too, but they are best used sparingly; for the ones that matter the most.

Here are some other places you can try them:

  1. Company-wide meetings 🧑‍🍼
    I once worked with the CPO of a scale-up whose technology had helped them to conceive. At the beginning of their remote all-hands debut, they introduced their 1-year-old twins to highlight the true impact of how the company helps its customers.

  2. Investor/sales Pitches 🦄
    Founders are very good at talking about how good their product is, why not prove it?! Instead of walking investors through the product, get them to actually try it live!

  3. Product launches 💌
    In 2008, Steve Jobs revealed the MacBook Air by pulling it out of an office envelope to demonstrate how compact and lightweight his latest product was. Proof that props don’t need to be extraordinary to have a monumental impact.

‘It’s the world’s thinnest notebook.’ Steve Jobs, 2008


If you had to use a prop for your next talk,
what would you choose?

Here are some ideas to help you get your creative juices flowing 💡:

  1. Books 📘
    Have you read something significant you’d love to share? Pop a post-it note on the desired page for easy access and read it straight from the source. Keep it short → 2-3 sentences max!

  2. Everyday Objects 🗿
    A cardboard box, mouse trap, cigarette, pen (cue Jordan Belfort ‘Sell me this pen!’ 🐺), an orange, matches, balloons, maps... Use them literally or metaphorically.

  3. Personal belongings 💌
    A photograph, letter, school report, souvenir from a special trip, jewellery, toys, cultural items, clothing, medals… Use them to create an unreal connection and Show your audience the ‘real’ you.

  4. Throwing props ⚾️
    Ok, maybe not a baseball. Keep them soft - beach balls, frisbees, paper aeroplanes etc. Brilliant for audience participation. I’ll always remember mentalist, Derren Brown throwing frisbees into the crowd to choose his participants.

  5. Audience members 👥
    Yes, your audience members can be props too! Perhaps you could bring someone on stage to help you demonstrate a point. This is a form of storytelling in real-time and your audience will live through the person you choose.

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Whenever you're ready, here are some ways I can help:

  1. Got a high-stakes presentation coming up at work? Raise your game with a copy of Make It Count 📘.

  2. Got big keynote speaking dreams? Become a member of MicDrop 🎤.

  3. Looking to upgrade your team’s presentation skills? Book a call ☎️.

  4. Get paid to speak? Take part in the MicDrop Open Speaker Fee Project and find out whether you’re charging what you’re really worth.

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