The Exceptional Presenter

(Written this past Friday)

Hello from 28,000 feet up in the air. I am flying back home after an awesome week of training a room full of Six Sigma students.

I got to the airport a little early and ended up staring down a book shelf in one of the excessively expensive airport shops. After scanning the scene I decided on The Exceptional Presenter by Timothy J. Koegel. It seems like all the books I read are about Lean, Six Sigma, or something similar and honestly they all begin to read the same after awhile. And since I do lots of training and presenting I thought this book looked interesting enough. It was.

I finished the book in 1 hour 40 minutes and while it started a little slow it grew more interesting the further I read.

Here is a brief summary of Mr. Koegel’s message.

The exceptional presenter follows the OPEN UP guidelines:

  • Organized – Knows the purpose of what they want to say and is prepared.
  • Passionate – Speaks with power and purpose and gestures precisely.
  • Engaging – Works on building rapport with the audience and connects with them.
  • Natural – Has a conversation with the audience rather than preaches to them.
  • Understanding – Does his or her homework and knows the audience.
  • Practice – As with anything in life we must practice to be good!

The book quoted a very interesting statistic. According to the research of a Dr. Mehrabian it is estimated that 7% of a presenter’s impact is determined by their words, 38% is determined by their confidence and conviction, and a whopping 55% is determined by the speaker’s nonverbal cues – such as their body language, eye contact, and facial expressions!

The book also referred to the 60/20 rule which states that a presenter should arrive to the room 60 minutes early to get things in order. Then, 20 minutes before the start of the presentation they should focus on meeting as many people from the audience as possible. By talking to the people and engaging in conversation the presenter is building rapport which we discussed earlier this week.

Over the years I have presented to all kinds of people and would be lying if I didn’t say I am quite comfortable in front of people. Heck, I will even sing Karaoke and that takes guts for a white man with little singing talent! With this said, after reading this book I realize I have many areas of opportunity.

A big issue for me has to do with what Koegel calls “verbal graffiti.” No, I don’t swear in front of my classes! However, I have a terrible habit of using so called “filler” words such as “um,” “so,” and the worst filler of all “To be honest with you.” This last one is particularly awful as it is really saying all the things I have been saying before now have been lies!

My hands and arms also tend to go wild from time to time. Koegel has a whole section on what to do with your extremities which was really interesting.

There are many more tips and cool examples, like how Tony Blair may very well be the best speech-giver alive today, but these were some of the highlights for me.

If you present a lot or simply want to learn how to better articulate yourself you should pick up this short read.

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    April 29, 2007 - 7:55 pm

    Looks good! I’ll check it out.

  2. Anonymous

    April 30, 2007 - 5:10 am

    When tempted by an airport bookstore book, I’ll often take a camera phone picture of the book so I can buy it cheaper from amazon when I get home.