The number 1 secret to a successful presentation

Most of you know I’ve been in training for years. Back in my corporate days, I was working with some executives for a new product launch. We were using Articulate for narrated PowerPoint presentations we were going to roll out to the field. You’ve probably seen this type of e-learning. It’s the narrated PowerPoint deck with some interactivity and a test at the end for compliance tracking.

Pretty normal corporate stuff, right?

Well, I needed to get these three execs to record their section of the presentation. They each had their own part of the presentation.

The first exec was from Engineering. Not quite the pocket protector crowd but not far from it. He was shorter with thinning hair, and a kinda pasty complexion. Like who am I to talk right? His presentation is probably exactly like you’d expect. He talked right thru all the technical details. It was the driest thing you’ve ever heard. Talk about zero passion. Oh my.

The second exec was from Marketing. He was you’re ideal SME to work with. He was totally prepared. He’d written a script, and when it was his time to record, he read right thru it. He had pacing, enthusiasm, voice inflection. There was just something missing and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it though.

The third exec was from operations. He was your typical get it done kinda guy. He was a big Irish fellow with a softer voice but presence. When he started to record, he stumbled all over his words. He couldn’t get his message out to save his life. 

Now he knew his superiors would be listening to this. He knew a thousand people in the field would be listening to this. I mean it was a pretty high profile launch. And man, he was struggling.

The other two guys left. I mean it was getting kinda painful to watch a peer suffer like this. He was getting all red in the face and finally it just happened. This guy just blew up. The f-bombs started flying. GD bombs were everywhere. He was livid! 

As I’m pulling him back from the ledge of the first floor window, I said Bob, relax. The best orators speak from their heart. Forget about all this process crap. Tell me why you BELIEVE in this. Tell me why this matters to the LISTENERS. Look at me and just speak from your heart. 

As he talked to me, he still had a few uhm’s and ah’s, but you know what? I can edit that out. What I can’t do is EDIT IN passion.

I remember when we played this for a room of about 75 people on the launch team before it went to the field. As they listened to the pre-recorded section of the 3 speakers, his delivery was by far and away, the best. 

You see, his voice was the most authentic. The most real. He spoke from the heart. And in the end, he was the most influential. Not because he had the perfect delivery, but because he had the passion.

I remember catching his eye. And from across the room, we just nodded and smiled at each other.

What’s your story? Are you too tangled up in the words? Are you comfortable enough speaking from the heart to persuade your listeners and move your audience?