Presenting Yourself (and some great content, too)

Part 1 of 3 - Covering the basics
Bryan Cooke

This is part one of a three-part series on delivering effective presentations.

If you came here for tips on slide design, you’ll be sorely disappointed (although my mom’s an artist, I never quite acquired that all-important aesthetic touch when it comes to visual design). But if you’re interested in delivering compelling content, keeping the audience engaged, and – most importantly – being authentically you without all of the high-anxiety baggage that usually accompanies public speaking, then I’ve got a few sizzlin’ tips just for you.

Full disclosure: I don’t have loads of training certificates and credentials. I didn’t major in “Presentations” at university. I don’t travel to seminars to hone my craft. But I have delivered a helluva lot of presentations and trainings over the years and – based on the invaluable feedback I received over that time – developed by own personal style that (according to me) seems to work.

But before we dive into all the juicy deets (coming in parts 2 and 3), I think it’s important to establish why we present and why it’s so important – both professionally and personally.

Why we present

Do you want your message to stick? If so, then you already understand why presenting is so crucial. But it’s more than just that: it’s also about delivering your content in a logical, structured, and engaging way for maximum info absorption. Sure, you could ramble on improvisationally to a client or colleague about a project or initiative you’ve been working on, but without the proper structure in place (storyline, slide deck, value statements, plus a teensy flair for the dramatic) you’ll either lose them or put them to sleep. Structure = good. No structure = boredom and zero info retrained by the audience + no fun. I should have been a mathematician.

But wait… there’s more. Did you know that enhancing your presentation skills can effect positive change in your personal life? “Say what, Bryan?! That can’t be true!” It’s true. Consider this: when you tell a friend or a loved one about your day (good or bad), do you present the facts as bullet points on a PowerPoint slide, or do you tell them a story? Or how about this: when you need to explain to the waitstaff that your dinner was overcooked, do you explode in rage and place the blame squarely on them, or do you try to see the situation from their point of view and adjust your message and tone accordingly? (I truly hope it’s the latter, but if not, then you’ve come to the right place.) Point is: presenting is a life skill, not just a business one.

The keys to success

By now you might be thinking, “That’s great and all, but what about the keys to success?”. Great question. Experienced and effective presenters undoubtedly share some commonalities, but each individual also brings their own personal style and bag of tricks to the table. And this “personal touch”, in my opinion, will be your ultimate enabler and best friend. So let’s take a quick, sneak-peek look at my own personal keys to success, and in parts 2 and 3 we’ll see just which doors they’ll open.

Let’s spice things up with a graphic, shall we?

Presenting Yourself

Pretty disappointing, right? Well… maybe not. If you’ll indulge me, I’ll walk you through each of these in detail and show you how – if used properly – they can fundamentally alter your approach to presenting and turn your fear into fortitude. For now, though, let’s stick a pin in it and save that delicious goodness for next time. Cool?

If you’re intrigued, be sure to tune in for parts 2 and 3 in the near future. As we say in Texas, “Y’all come back now, ya hear?”