How to Present The Ultimate Guide to Presenting Your Ideas and Influencing People Using Techniques That Actually Work
by Michelle Bowden
Publisher: Wiley (2013)
Reviewed by: Julie Garland McLellan*
Presenting ideas and influencing the board is an everyday occurrence for directors and senior executives. Doing it well is a rare one!
Described as 'the ultimate guide to presenting your ideas and influencing people using techniques that actually work' this useful book lives up to its promise: it is a straightforward 'how to' manual with simple yet effective tools that will turn even the most nervous stutterer into an effective presenter.
The first great point about the book is that it recognises presentations as a varied range of communication opportunities; from speaking a few words whilst seated at a meeting table with your colleagues, through formal presentations, to major convention addresses. Each requires a different approach and yet each starts, as does the book, at the step of analysing your goals and deciding what you want to achieve from the presentation. If there is nothing to achieve, don't take the risk! Keep your powder dry and save your time and effort, not to mention breath, for a time when there is a worthwhile reward to be gained.
Once you are clear on your objective you can start to design the presentation - to think about a script and structure that will achieve the desired outcome. The book uses the same stepped methodology that was introduced in Michelle's last book (Don't Picture Me Naked) and which forms the framework for her superb courses and seminars. It works. It doesn't need reinventing and is shown here with the same clarity and force as in her other work.
At last the book gets to actually delivering the presentation. This is where inferior books start. Even so, there is a point of difference and it is the way that Michelle starts with the presenters' mental state and helps to get that right before moving to the mechanics of warming up the voice and establishing rapport. (Yes - rapport can be built just like a LegoTM set if you follow the instructions)
The sections on using visual aids are refreshingly small in comparison to the rest of the text and the inclusion of thoughts about setting up the room is a valid and handy feature.
Like all of Michelle's work, this book is practical. There are checklists at the back and a useful summary of the simple tips that scatter the pages. This book will make you a better presenter if you read it. It won't work from the bookshelf but it will work in every other circumstance I can imagine. Although the prospect of Michelle naked is likely highly attractive to half the population this book is an improvement on the last and is also a smaller volume that is easier to carry for last minute cramming whilst on the flight to the next meeting. If you see me on the plane with my nose in a little red book, this is likely to be it!
As I write this review I am taking a break from filling in the paperwork to apply for accreditation as a CSP - the highest internationally recognised professional speaking qualification. I am feeling remarkably confident. Much of that confidence is gained because the feedback from my presentations has been good and getting better over many years. I have enjoyed reading Michelle's earlier works and also her courses. Much of my skill has been learned from her writing and only the practice that has honed it is truly mine. I know her advice works. I hope you will know it also.
Highly recommended and available from Amazon.com. Also available in kindle edition.
* Julie Garland McLellan is a professional non-executive director, board and governance consultant and mentor. She is the author of "Dilemmas, Dilemmas: Practical Case Studies for Company Directors", Dilemmas, Dilemmas II: More Practical Case Studies for Company Directors (Volume 2), "The Director's Dilemma", "Presenting to Boards", "All Above Board: Great Governance for the Government Sector" and numerous articles on corporate strategy and governance.