Tuesday Nov 6th 2012: Tweet-up with Garr Reynolds

November 4, 2012

As regular readers will be well aware, Garr Reynolds is in London this week for the Presentation Zen European Seminar 2012, and the world premiere of his new seminar, the Presentation Zen Storytelling Masterclass, both in association with Ideas on Stage. As in 2010 and 2011, we are extremely proud to work with Garr and bring his unique approach to presentations to a wider audience in Europe.

Garr also sees this as an opportunity to meet like-minded people, fans etc, so each year we also organize a ‘tweet-up’, which is simply a time and place where Garr’s fans can come along, buy a drink and chat with him. No tickets, no entry fee, nothing formal – just a meet-up, but organized via social media, hence the name ‘tweet-up’.

As Garr will be giving a short talk at the Apple Store in Regent Street, all about Keynote, from 6-7pm on Tuesday 6th November, we’re organizing the tweet-up just after that, and just around the corner. It will be at an eclectic place called Flat Planet, which serves drinks of course but which is famous for its excellent organic flatbreads. We’ve reserved the basement from 7.15pm to 9.00pm so please come along, get a drink and/or a flatbread, and come down to chat with Garr.

I’ll be there too of course, so if you are in the London area, come and join us, and by all means come and enjoy Garr’s talk at the Apple Store beforehand.

Address: Flat Planet, 39 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7JG (next to Liberty)

Time: Tuesday 6th November 2012, 7.15pm – 9.00pm

Here’s a link to a Google map showing the location together with the route from the Apple Store in Regent Street.


Not Just European – The 2012 Presentation Zen European Seminar

October 9, 2012

With a month to go before this year’s Presentation Zen European Seminar, we have a remarkable range of people coming to London to see Garr Reynolds and learn the new way of presenting from the master himself.

We have people coming from 16 countries (so far), including the USA, Canada and Japan, so it isn’t really a European Seminar any more! Once again, Garr is proving to be a star attraction, and I’m sure this year’s seminar is going to be as amazing as our Paris seminars in 2010 and 2011.

We’ve already sold out the Presentation Zen Storytelling Masterclass on November 8th, aimed mainly at those who’ve already attended the Presentation Zen Seminar, but we still have some places left for the main seminar on November 7th 2012, at the Hilton London Paddington – including some very cheap tickets for current students, with the reduction code PZSTUDENT.

So if you’d like to join us all in London, be fast because there aren’t many places left. Sign up now!


Announcing a great event in London – and it’s not the Olympics!

July 27, 2012

In 2010 and 2011, Ideas on Stage was proud to organize the Presentation Zen European Seminar in Paris. This was Garr Reynolds‘ only public seminar in Europe each year, and it brought people from ten European countries and as far afield as Seattle to learn directly from the world’s leading presentation expert.

In 2012, we’re taking the show on the road, and where better than London, the year’s most happening city? On November 7th, Garr will give his Presentation Zen European Seminar 2012, and since this sold out in 2010 and 2011, this year we’ve hired a bigger room with more space – but tickets are already selling quickly so get yours fast…

We’re also delighted to offer something new this year, especially for those who already attended Garr’s seminar in 2010 or 2011 (or the 2012 edition): the following day, on November 8th, will see the world premiere of Garr’s brand-new Presentation Zen Storytelling Masterclass. Effective slide design and powerful delivery are not enough: every great presentation is based on a mastery of the art of storytelling.

You can buy tickets for one or other seminar, or – until August 31st – you can get a combination ticket which gives you a huge 50% discount off the day 2 Storytelling Masterclass.

Don’t hesitate – reserve your place now, and if you get in quickly we’ve also negotiated some discount hotel rooms for you at the Hilton London Paddington, where both events will take place.

Direct link for more details: http://www.ideasonstage.com/presentation-zen-seminar-europe-2012-london/

I look forward to seeing you there!


Top 10 of 2011

December 20, 2011

As 2012 approaches, and many of us wind down for a relaxing break for Christmas and New Year, it’s time to take a look back at 2011 and what marked it most.

So just as I shared my Top 10 of 2010 last year, here is a rundown of the Top 10 Phil Presents posts of 2011. Whether you read them at the time or missed them, this is a chance to recap the most popular articles of the year (not including event reviews etc).

And let me say a warm thankyou to you, because it is the growing popularity of this blog and the many fine comments you make that keep me writing, sharing, and doing my bit to help change the world, one presentation at a time. Just as a presenter is on stage not because he or she is important but because their audience is important, I don’t write this blog because I am in some way great or important. I write it because you are important. You matter. You can change the world. My role is merely to help you do that in some small way.

So best wishes for a successful 2012, thanks for reading and listening, and enjoy the recap of the most popular posts of 2011.

10. DSK: How emotions beat logic every time

Written before Dominique Strauss-Kahn‘s New York trial was dropped, this took two key presentation lessons from the DSK-Diallo case and the public reaction in France.

9. Adapt To Your Audience

A presenter who takes the time to understand his or her audience, and tailors their presentation accordingly, is worth their weight in gold.

8. Do Investors Like Slideuments?

One of many pitch-related posts this year, this asked the question whether information-laden slideuments are appropriate in an investor pitch. (Clue: they’re not.)

7. Animate Your Audience – Not Your Slides

A follow-up to the year’s #1 post, this one talked about how animation on the screen is bad unless it helps to deliver your message more effectively; but on the contrary, animating your audience is absolutely critical for the success of any presentation.

6. Keep it simple…

As experts in our subjects, we tend to present with far too much complexity. Keep it simple, and your audience will understand far more.

5. When you think Presentation Zen isn’t appropriate, that’s when you need it most

The post that debunks the myth that you can’t use Garr Reynolds’ approach in certain situations like technical presentations.

4. Video: Introduction to Presentation Skills

This post features a 90-minute video of yours truly, giving a presentation skills talk to entrepreneurs at Le Camping in Paris. If you have 90 minutes to learn about what it takes to give a great presentation, sit back and enjoy.

3. First Impressions Last

All about the vital importance of your introduction.

2. Perfecting Your Pitch

Another pitch-related post, and this is about putting the finishing touches to your pitch, and turning it from a good pitch into a great memorable pitch.

1. Two Reasons I Don’t Recommend Prezi

The most-viewed and most-commented post of the year was this one, about how I believe Prezi stops the presenter focusing on the audience before the presentation, and stops the audience focusing on the presenter during the presentation. I believe Prezi is a fine tool for certain niche uses, but in most cases, it is solving the wrong problem, and making an existing problem worse.

And a few bonus posts…

Here are a few other posts which didn’t make the Top 10 in terms of hits, but which I believe deserve another look. Some were from the start of the year (when the blog was not as widely read as it is now), and others were very recent and didn’t yet have time to accumulate enough hits.

Take The Drive-By Test

Treat your slide as if it were a road sign, and make it simple, clear and quick to understand. It’s a simple but powerful test. And this short post from early January also features a hilarious video which is well worth watching.

Show And Feel

About the importance of mirror neurons – this is vital information every presenter should know.

Pitch 2.0 (Video)

A video of my 8-minute presentation at Le Camping Festival in June 2011, in the style of Steve Jobs. Six months later, people still tell me they remember ‘Magic, Vision & Passion’!

Presentation 2.0: Resonate Naked

This was my joint review of Resonate and The Naked Presenter, two fantastic books about structuring and delivering great presentations. For me, these two books usher in the era of what I call Presentation 2.0.

So which of these was your favourite post of 2011?


Beyond 10-20-30

December 9, 2011

I like the spirit of Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule. If you’re not familiar with it, take a look at this short entertaining video.

He is basically saying: don’t overload your audience; keep it simple; and use text that’s big enough to be legible by the whole audience. Amen to all that.

However, many people take Guy’s advice out of context and apply it to the letter. Yet Guy was giving advice to entrepreneurs pitching to venture capitalists – a very specific presentation context. He was saying that you should aim to pitch in 20 minutes, with ten slides – and not just any ten slides, but these ten slides (he lists what should be on each slide).

Now for an investor pitch, that’s pretty good advice, although it can be taken to extremes, and I’ve already talked about how you need to go beyond being informative, and also make sure your pitch is memorable.

But the 10-20-30 advice just doesn’t hold up for any other kind of presentation. The spirit is spot-on, and I applaud Guy’s intentions, but you shouldn’t take his advice to the letter – Guy certainly doesn’t follow it religiously in his recent (very good) Enchantment presentations. Here’s why we need to go beyond 10-20-30.

Read the rest of this entry »


Garr Reynolds: Great keynote at the Ideas on Stage Conference 2011

December 8, 2011

We were delighted to welcome so many amazing people – participants and speakers – to the Ideas on Stage Conference 2011 a few weeks ago in Paris.

Our aim with this conference was to inspire people to transform their businesses with the power of innovation, communication and entrepreneurship. So it was partly about great presentations on those themes, but it was also about networking, bringing people together and inspiring people to have their own great ideas. Judging by the feedback, and by the many connections people made, it was a real success.

We were particularly delighted to welcome the brilliant Garr Reynolds back to Paris, and honoured to have him as the keynote Communication speaker. So it’s only right that the first talk I share from this conference is Garr’s fantastic keynote about on-ko-chi-shin or learning presentation lessons from the past.

I’ll be sharing more talks from the Ideas on Stage Conference in the coming weeks. Big thanks to the guys at present.me for cutting this together and getting this online on their great site, so we can see the slides as well as the speaker; and thanks also to Buzdig for the filming.

Enjoy!

Direct web link: http://present.me/view/3642-garr-reynolds-presentation-zen


Two Great Reasons To Come To Paris

September 14, 2011

Last year, the fantastic Garr Reynolds came to France for a one-off Presentation Zen European Seminar. It sold out well in advance, and was a rousing success. People came from nine countries, including the USA, to learn from the world’s leading presentation expert. This year, he’s back for more.

On November 14th 2011, Garr will return to Paris to deliver his only public seminar in Europe this year. Tickets are now on sale exclusively at ideasonstage.com – so don’t miss your opportunity: sign up now.

But that’s not all. We are also delighted to announce the Ideas on Stage Conference 2011, which will be held on November 15th 2011. This is the first in what we hope will be a series of top-class social conferences, bringing together amazing speakers and leading innovators, entrepreneurs and communicators for an event which will be as memorable for its networking opportunities as for the top-quality speakers.

You could think of it as a ‘TED for business’. The focus is on innovation, communication and entrepreneurship:

  • Innovation, which is the lifeblood of any business, large or small;
  • Communication, without which even the best innovations get nowhere;
  • Entrepreneurship, which is vital for transforming great innovations into profitable, sustainable businesses – as much for big firms as for start-ups.

We’ll be announcing a line-up of top-quality speakers, and social tools to facilitate networking before, during and after the event. Garr Reynolds will be one of the keynote speakers (so that gives you an idea of the quality we’re aiming for) and we have many others who will leave your minds buzzing with creative business ideas.

Places are strictly limited for this first event in November, so get in early and take advantage of special Early Bird prices (valid until October 1st). You can also buy a combined ticket for the Presentation Zen European Seminar and the Ideas on Stage 2011 Conference, and save even more.

You don’t normally need excuses to come to the beautiful city of Paris. Here are two great ones – and we hope they will convince you to come to Paris, have a great time, and take home top-class presentation skills, brilliant business ideas, useful new contacts, and happy memories – as well as those little plastic Eiffel Towers.

Sign up now and we look forward to welcoming you to Paris!


When you think Presentation Zen isn’t appropriate, that’s when you need it most

August 4, 2011

I meet many people who have read and enjoyed Presentation Zen, Garr Reynolds’ masterpiece which tears up the received wisdom of presentations, and offers a completely different approach. Most accept that it has improved their presentation style significantly.

However, even these PZ disciples often tell me that they think Garr’s approach isn’t practical for certain types of presentations. It’s fine, they say, for a TED talk or a sales pitch, but you can’t use a Presentation Zen for a detailed technical explanation of how to run a particular widget.

I disagree. But I see where they are coming from. Many PZ readers get the impression that a ‘zenified’ presentation is one which features slides with lots of beautiful photos and very little text. The attractive design and plentiful visual examples in the book naturally have something to do with this.

But Presentation Zen is not a style: it is an approach. It is a different way of thinking about presentations, which does not prescribe the use of quality stock photos, although they may often feature in a resulting slide-deck. The end-result of using the Presentation Zen approach is an interesting, relevant and memorable presentation – not just some pretty slides.

Here are three situations where people say Presentation Zen isn’t appropriate.

1. A boring subject. You are required to present a study of 19th-century economic theories and their impact on the Crimean War to a group of 16-year-olds. They are fully expecting to be bored stiff and have no interest at all in the subject, you know this, and you’re all going to be very relieved when it’s over, after which they will remember precisely nothing because they weren’t listening. How can you possibly use the Presentation Zen approach for something so boring?

The answer is that if the subject is worth presenting, it is worth presenting in an interesting way. It is worth thinking about your audience and finding a way to make it relevant to them, to make them want to listen, and to help them to learn. In fact, it is the most boring subjects which can benefit the most from the Presentation Zen approach.

I recently heard an example of a bailiff who needed to make a presentation to other bailiffs about the rate of repossessions. Boring job, boring people, boring subject, boring presentation, right? Wrong. This bailiff used the Presentation Zen approach to craft an interesting and engaging talk, with a few clear and simple graphs and a little humour, which the audience loved.

The bottom line is that people don’t like to be bored, and if they are used to being bored, or are expecting to be bored, then it’s all the more important to find a way to make your talk interesting to them. This in fact is where Presentation Zen can be of greatest value.

2. A technical presentation. Imagine you need to use a presentation to explain how to use a particular piece of software.  There’s no chance at all of using Presentation Zen here, right?

Wrong. Once again, Presentation Zen is not a style. With the Presentation Zen approach, you will shut down your computer, consider your key messages and the success criteria for your talk, and think creatively about the best ways to help your audience to internalize those key messages. While the end-result may not include stock photos with a few words, it should be an interesting and engaging way of getting your messages across, with or without visuals, and in any case it’s unlikely to feature too many bullet points.

Many years ago I was a trainer for an IT infrastructure course we gave to all IT new-hires in a major corporation. This covered a lot of technical detail in many different areas, and it was in need of a new approach. I reinvented the course using a storyline – where participants had to imagine themselves starting a tiny company with nothing more than a phone, and building up additional bricks of infrastructure as the business grew until they had their own centralized data center and wide-area network.

This new structure helped participants to stay engaged, and to realize not just what each piece does, but why it is needed and how it fits with all the other pieces. I also introduced a large number of exercises to break up the flow, keep people involved, and help them to learn by doing, not just by listening.

This was before the time of Presentation Zen, but the approach is just the same. Find a relevant and ideally enjoyable way for the audience to learn. Think creatively, use the power of storytelling, and make the key messages memorable.

Coming back to the software explanation example, you might use screen captures, or videos, or a live demo, or you might get the audience to learn hands-on with their own computers. Any of those would be more effective than throwing out dozens of bullet points over a two-hour monologue and hoping some of it sticks.

3. A review of business results. Quarterly or annual results – absolutely no chance of pretty stock photos here, right? Correct – but that doesn’t stop  you using the Presentation Zen approach.

A customer approached my company Ideas on Stage asking for our help with his procurement department’s annual all-employee review, where he had to present the year’s results and the plans for the year ahead to 250 people. He gave us 108 highly detailed graphs as a starting point – most years, these would have been the slides. There is a lot to measure in procurement, especially in such a big group.

We helped him to simplify his messages, showing only the information which supported his main points, and we produced a deck of about 35 slides, all of which were simple, clear and attractive, often with simple graphs showing only the relevant information and making the key message stand out, and without a single stock photo. We then helped him to rehearse delivering those key messages with passion and belief. It was a resounding success. The Presentation Zen approach works very well for results presentations.

There are two simple conclusions.

  1. Presentation Zen is about more than just pretty slides, and Garr’s approach could lead you to deliver a presentation with no slides at all.
  2. It’s at those times when you may think this approach is least appropriate that, on the contrary, it can make the most difference.

If you haven’t yet read Presentation Zen, I strongly recommend it. If you have, I recommend re-reading it. Over time, we tend to forget much of what we read, and remember only a key takeaway or two. The two obvious takeaways from Presentation Zen are “don’t use slideuments” and “use simple slides with photos”, and sadly that’s all many people remember. Yet there is far more to it than that, and it is one of those rare books which thoroughly deserve to be revisited regularly.


Presentation 2.0: Resonate Naked

June 29, 2011

As I prepare to launch a new Ideas on Stage training course entitled Presentation 2.0, I feel compelled to write about two recent books which have captured the spirit of what we mean with Presentation 2.0, and which I would advise any presenter to read more than once.

Presentation 2.0 – the new art of presenting – is about engaging with your audience, telling authentic stories, and sharing passion and motivation with more concern for your audience than for yourself. In a Presentation 2.0, you are presenting not because you are important, but because your audience is important, so your focus is on them.

In a Presentation 2.0, you might choose to use visual aids to get your message across more memorably, but you will keep your slides simple and clear, and you will ensure that they are there only to help your audience to understand and remember your messages, not to help you to remember what you need to say.

In a Presentation 2.0, you will care more about what your audience will do with your message afterwards than what they think about you as a presenter.

For all these reasons, Presentation 2.0 is a far more effective and enjoyable way to communicate than the 1.0 style of reading bullet-ridden slideuments to bored audiences, or even the more advanced 1.1 style, promoted by slide-oriented sites like SlideShare, where you use pretty slides but still divert too much of the audience’s attention onto the slides and away from the two-way communication you should be having between presenter and audience. Death By Pretty Powerpoint is just sharpening the axe – it still falls and it still kills.

Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds ponder each other's first book

Now, before I talk about these two books, let me first provide a disclaimer. I didn’t pay for either of these – I received copies directly from the authors. The presentation business is still a fairly small world, people quote each other and write forewords for each other’s books, and that’s remarkably refreshing since we’re all working together with a common aim. While I’ve not yet met Nancy Duarte (an omission I’ll soon be correcting), I’ve shared a stage with Garr Reynolds and organize seminars with him, and – further disclaimer – he even did me the honour of including one of my articles in The Naked Presenter.

So I’m not exactly impartial here. But I’m not being paid to write a review, and if either author was hoping for one, I’ve likely disappointed them by delaying it for eight months.

Nancy Duarte wrote resonate as a prequel to her best-seller slide:ology. This fact alone is telling.

After many years as a leading presentation specialist, Nancy realised that before you can spend time making attractive and effective slides, you first have to structure your presentation properly, with clear objectives, simple messages, and a powerful scenario which draws on millennia of storytelling experience from Aristotle to Hollywood. And before you can do that, you have to focus on your audience.

Only when you know your audience and you have a story to match can you expect your ideas to resonate with them – and if your ideas resonate, then the audience will take them away and make them resonate far and wide.

resonate is therefore the book to read before slide:ology, and indeed, if it is the only presentation book you ever read, it will be a good choice because it tells you so much about storytelling, with many examples from Martin Luther King Jr to Star Wars, and if you can get your storytelling right and tailor it to your audience’s needs, you have the makings of a fine presentation.

The Naked Presenter follows on from Garr Reynolds’ previous two best-sellers, Presentation Zen and Presentation Zen Design. Where the first was about realising the received wisdom about presenting was all wrong, and offering a fresh, simple approach, and the second was about designing simple and attractive slides, The Naked Presenter focuses on how to deliver your presentation authentically and memorably.

Naked, in this sense, is figurative: it is about being yourself, being authentic, and making a connection with your audience. It is about presenting for them, not for you. It is about communicating, not putting on a show.

The “Naked Book”, as Garr calls it, is in fact a fantastic one-stop-shop for presentation skills, because it also covers how to structure your presentation, and how to approach your slides. So again, if this is the only presentation book you ever read, it’s a good choice.

Both books are beautifully designed and easy to read, in bite-size chunks. Personally, I would recommend reading The Naked Presenter first, then reading it again, and then getting into resonate. This is because Garr’s book will give you a strong foundation in all aspects of the Presentation 2.0 approach (storytelling, effective visuals and delivery), and Nancy’s book will then give you expert knowledge about how to choose your objectives and craft an effective story.

You can then of course go into detail on slide design with slide:ology or Presentation Zen Design, both of which I refer back to regularly. But don’t put the cart before the horse: learn what makes a presentation work, and then learn how to illustrate it. There are few if any skills you can learn which you will have as many opportunities to use as presenting effectively, and even fewer which will better help you to advance your career.

The evolution of Presentation 2.0 is clear if you contrast Nancy’s and Garr’s latest books with their previous ones. Previously, it seemed that the main battle to be fought was against bad slides, and both authors created powerful ammunition to beat the legions of slideuments and their endless flow of bullets. That battle is not yet won, but the tide is turning.

Yet now it is clear that fixing your slides isn’t good enough. Films don’t win awards only with brilliant supporting roles: they need to have top-class lead actors, and very strong storylines which truly engage the target audience. Slides are just a support, no more. You need to make your ideas resonate, and you need to engage properly with your audience. Only then can your finely manicured slides be effective.

That’s why resonate and The Naked Presenter mark the beginning of a new era in presenting, an era where the audience is paramount; where presentations put ideas on stage, not mere information; where those ideas are crafted and delivered so they resonate with audiences; and where presenters engage their audiences in a naked, authentic way.

This is the Presentation 2.0 era. This is where we can all resonate naked. And our audiences will most definitely thank us for it.


Review: Presentation Zen European Seminar 2010

December 13, 2010

From all the comments I’ve received, the Presentation Zen European Seminar 2010 was a fantastic event, highly appreciated by the participants, and throughly enjoyed by everyone.

It was a lot of work to get everything organised, but it was well worth it. Garr Reynolds was superb as always, and led the participants through an entertaining, instructive and memorable afternoon.

The show began, of course, the evening before, when we congregated at Un Dimanche A Paris, the new chocolate-themed concept store opened by Pierre Cluizel just off Boulevard Saint-Germain. Garr was able to meet many fans including some who weren’t able to make it to the seminar itself, and it was also an opportunity for some seminar participants to get to know each other beforehand.

The location was beautiful, the wine delicious and the food (we stayed to eat in the restaurant) was simply sublime. I will be taking my wife there soon. Garr enjoyed the guided tour – and the chocolates!

Pierre’s charming wife Sylvie also provided us with some chocolate mignonnettes (small squares) which were the perfect accompaniment to the coffee break during the Presentation Zen seminar. This was one of three surprises we sprung on the participants. The others were a Presentation Zen Way bento box, and – just at the end – an advance copy of Garr’s new book, The Naked Presenter, which Garr was only too pleased to sign and dedicate.

Between these surprises, Garr’s typically strong performance and the great support provided by Microsoft and Pearson, it was a successful event and although tickets weren’t cheap, it was generally considered great value for money.

But don’t just believe me – there are plenty of participants who have blogged about the seminar, and I’ll put links to their posts and photos in the comments below. (You can find many of our photos here.)

So, time for thankyous.

Thanks to Microsoft (Saïd Sbihi, Blaise Vignon and Christophe Lauer) for hosting the event in such a great room and supporting us so professionally.

Thanks to Pearson (Cécile Legros, Victoria Watkins and Florence Young) for making the bento boxes affordable and for giving away Garr’s new book.

Thanks to Pierre Morsa, my partner at Ideas on Stage, for his tireless enthusiasm and great organisation with tickets, invoices, etc.

Thanks to all the many participants for making it such a special day – I hope we will meet again.

And of course, thanks to Garr for bringing his Presentation Zen Way to Europe and for trusting us with this event, not for the first time, and hopefully not the last.


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