Winning Presentations - Three Critical Factors for Success
“Think about how much more positive your life is when you see yourself as a creative person. When you have creative confidence, you can change things.”
So says David Kelley, founder of IDEO and author of Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All.
Creative, confident speakers fill their talks with ideas that not only inform but also spark action. They master the art of making complex information understandable, getting through to each unique audience and even managing anxiety.
How do they do this? They know that to be successful there are three essential traits they must embody: Competence, Connection and Confidence.*
* JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. applies similar traits to education.
At a recent fundraiser, winning ice skater Peggy Fleming told of her first winter Olympics. Young and naïve, she panicked as she skated to the center of the ice while thousands of people watched, and judged, her performance. No big surprise that her mind went blank – until the music started and muscle memory, plus competence from years of practice, kicked in. She skated beautifully and came home with America’s only Gold medal. Not bad for a 19 year old who had never been out of the country before.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson/7046282179
Key Idea: When the stakes are high and the audience challenging, competence is crucial. An in-depth understanding of the subject matter plus a crystal clear objective are musts. Your logic has to tie together, other perspectives need to be considered and you have to know your content cold.
On June 12, 2005, Steve Jobs’ electrifying commencement address at Stanford University became an instant social media sensation. His compelling message connected with the audience in large part because he shared his own personal experiences, “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.” With passion, humility, honesty and humor he spoke of how his setbacks had turned into amazing opportunities: dropping out of college, getting fired from Apple and facing a life threatening disease. In concluding he asked these new grads to “follow your heart and intuition…stay hungry, stay foolish.” We know he did.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kengz/70892997
Key Idea: At the heart of every successful presentation is a connection with the audience. Like Steve Jobs, you can use customer stories, examples and poignant anecdotes to illuminate factual data and transform it into “ah ha moments.” These add a powerful complement to any well-crafted presentation.
Peter Guber, former Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, faced massive resistance when he tried to convince one of their companies to build the first multiplex theater in an already crowded city – Manhattan. Because the team deeply feared this move would ruin their business, Guber had to use great skill to win them over. He creatively, and competently, compared building a 16-20 movie complex to offering hungry people a variety of choices in a food emporium. His managers bought into and executed on his plan. The result was Sony’s 67th multiplex, which was an enormous success.
Photo credit: http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2266019996
Key Idea: You don’t get to Guber’s level of confidence overnight. It comes from actually being successful one presentation at a time. Like competitive skating or connecting with an audience, it requires commitment and consistent practice. Sweaty palms and a pounding heart aside, these repeated successes lead to increased confidence. As the old saying goes, “nothing succeeds like success.”
How to deliver winning presentations and increase your creative confidence? Start by remembering it’s not about you, it’s about what your content does for your audience. Don’t be afraid to connect on a human and appropriately personal level. Finally, invest enough time in planning to end up with the strongest possible result. Then, as David Kelley says, you can change things!