Talk Like TED

Great public speaking advice, even if you’re never invited to TED.

Carmine Gallo is a communications coach that has helped executives from leading organizations improve their presentation skills. In his latest book, Talk Like TED (St. Martin’s Press, ISBN 978-1250041128), Mr. Gallo unpacks the keys to success behind some of the most downloaded TED presentations. TED is a non-profit that stands for Technology, Education, and Design and organizes an annual conference where speakers have just 18 minutes to share “Ideas Worth Spreading”.

Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo

As with one of his previous books, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, much of the material can be viewed on Netflix, YouTube or the TED web site. Watching a presentation while reading Mr. Gallo’s analysis is helpful, especially when learning how to better use one’s voice or body language to be a more effective speaker. Although TED talks organize the book’s structure, Mr. Gallo skillfully weaves in stories from his consulting work and expert interviews from scientists who study human learning.


It’s highly unlikely that I’ll be invited to speak at a TED event. But I intend to learn everything I can from those who do.

For More Information

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

slideology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations

Nancy Duarte presents her ideology for crafting persuasive presentations.

Nancy Duarte helps high-tech firms like Adobe, Cisco, and Google craft their images. But she is best known for her work on former US Vice President Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient TruthSlide:ology is a combination of the words slide (as in PowerPoint slide) and ideology, which is an apt description for the book.  Although there are specific prescriptions for making successful presentations, the book does a better job at presenting Nancy Duarte’s ideology (although I would use the word methodology) for crafting presentations. If you feel totally lost when you first open Microsoft PowerPoint (or any presentation tool – the book is tool agnostic) or if you feel totally defeated after giving an underwhelming presentation, you’ll find this book tremendously helpful. It beautifully covers the entire lifecycle from imagination to creation to presentation.

Based on the rave reviews of this book, I was expecting to experience a presentation epiphany. Although I found some new tips, much of the advice is presented in the books I already own by Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen and The Naked Presenter. Slide:ology is beautiful and inspirational. But in times when I wanted Nancy Duarte’s own book to go deeper, she provided reading recommendations for still more books instead.


Still, it’s useful to have a few of these guides on your bookshelf and to review them while in the midst of creating your latest presentation.  Many times, we reach immediately for Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote instead of practicing slide:ology. If your bookshelf is light on presentation design books, this book will definitely be a big help. But if you already own a few books on presentation design- like me- you’ll turn the last page still hoping for more. Perhaps I’ll find more as I read Resonate, her second book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How to Open a Presentation

A short but useful Kindle book about making the best first impression as a public speaker.

How to Open a Presentation, by Avi Salmon is a short but useful Kindle book about making the best first impression as a public speaker.

The very first impression that any individual or group of people will have of you is built within a few second. This is a very small window of opportunity and you have to take the advantage to gain interest and undivided attention.

What really intrigued me about the book was its author. As a hardware engineer for Intel (see Avi Salmon’s LinkedIn profile), he’s undoubtedly spent a lot of time listening to dry technical presentations. He’s devoted a large portion of his professional career teaching others to become better presenters. Technology can be a challenging subject to make interesting. As a technical presenter, it is all to easy to spend hours making PowerPoint slides but not thinking much about how you’re going to actually speak about the material. I prepared my last presentation while reading this book and it helped me focus and sharpen my introduction. Avi shares many anecdotes from personal experience which, in my opinion, is the best feature of the book.

How to Open a Presentation is just $0.99 in the Amazon Kindle store, making it an easy purchase decision.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Avi Salmon, the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Platform

If you have something to say or sell and want to build a platform to promote it, this book will be a valuable resource to you.

Platform by Michael Hyatt is “a step-by-step” guide for anyone with something to say or sell. Like Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, Platform started life as a series of blog posts that became a book. According to the author,

Very simply, a platform is the thing you have to stand on to get heard. It’s your stage. But unlike a stage in the theater, today’s platform is not built of wood or concrete or perched on a grassy hill. Today’s platform is built of people. Contacts. Connections. Followers.

As the former CEO and chairman of Thomas Nelson publishing, Mr. Hyatt not only had a successful career helping book authors build their own platforms, he’s built a pretty successful one himself. With over 400,000 monthly visitors to his blog and over 200,000 followers on Twitter, he is actively using the advice he dispenses in his book.


What I found particularly helpful was Mr. Hyatt’s willingness to share his mistakes as well as his successes. As somebody who has been blogging since 2007, I’ve already learned several of the book’s lessons the hard way. But I’ve taken many best practices from the pages of Platform and will be adopting them over the next few months.

If you have something to say or sell and want to build a platform to promote it, this book will be a valuable resource to you.

Resources

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book with my own funds. It was not a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun is a great resource for public speakers.  I just finished the Kindle edition and am sorry that I put off reading the book for so long.


The book combines practical public speaking tips with some great storytelling of the author’s personal experiences. It’s the combination that keeps the book entertaining.  It also drives home the author’s point that great storytelling is a key ingredient of a great presentation, regardless of its topic.

This book is highly opinionated, personal, and full of behind-the-scenes stories. You may not like this. Some people like seeing how sausage is made, but many do not.

Berkun, Scott (2009-10-20). Confessions of a Public Speaker (Kindle Locations 166-167). OReilly Media – A. Kindle Edition.

A key component of Scott Berkun’s advice is practice, something that I’ll be doing quite a bit of this week to prepare for next week’s 2012 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference in Orlando, Florida. I highly recommend that other speakers grab the Kindle edition and read it on their flight to Orlando.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Presentation Zen

A book review of Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

It’s SAP BusinessObjects User Conference season and time to put the final touches on presentations.  I recently picked up a copy of Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen, second edition to keep my copy of The Naked Presenter company.  The book is divided into three sections- preparation, design, and delivery- and gives solid examples with lots of illustration. It begins with a forward by former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who cleverly writes his forward as a slide deck.  The book also features sidebar articles by other well-known presentation gurus like Nancy DuarteSeth Godin, and Gihan Perera.

Although the presentations I give tend to be technical with lots of how-to and screen captures, I appreciated the discussion on the evils of “slideuments”. A slideument is a slide presentation that really should be broken down into a more general slide deck and a more specific document handout.  Although I tend to agree with the author, it’s easier to see the concepts applied to the sample slide decks of the late Steve Jobs or TED speakers than pure hands-on technical content.

The other advise I took was purchasing a presentation remote.  Mr. Reynolds writes about Keyspan remotes on his web site, so I purchased a Keyspan PR-PRO3.  There are smaller remotes on the market, but this one fits comfortably in my hand and has great range.  It really makes a difference in your presentation when not trapped behind a lectern.

I did my best to apply as much advice as possible in my upcoming presentations at the 2012 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.  I’m glad I bought it and know that I’ll pick this book up again and again as I prepare for future conferences.

What are your thoughts about Presentation Zen?  What other books about presenting should I read?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Naked Presenter

This book not only gives useful presentation tips but enlarges your thinking about presentations and engaging with an audience.

I have frequently heard about Garr Reynolds and his Presentation Zen books. But I never ordered one until picking out my own Christmas presents on Amazon.com last month. I’ll be speaking soon at BI 2012 in Las Vegas. It’s too late to learn how to make better slides (Presentation Zen and Presentation Zen Design), as they’re already finalized. But it’s not too late to improve my delivery, so I chose The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides as my first Garr Reynolds title. It’s a great book and this quote from page 101 explains why:

If you are talking about trying to lead a movement, change the world, or just get your message heard and remembered, then you sure as heck better be prepared to show your passion. You don’t have to be slick or polished, and you don’t have to be tall or good looking, but you do have to engage, inspire, and motivate. That’s what leaders do. That’s what naked presenters do.

Whether you’re a conference speaker or just engaging with co-workers in a conference room, this book not only gives useful presentation tips but enlarges your thinking about presentations and connecting to an audience. I’ll definitely be re-reading this book on the flight to Las Vegas and hope that the results come through in my presentations. But I will be fully dressed.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book with my own funds. It was not a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

If your career involves communicating and connecting with an audience, large or small, this book is an excellent addition to your bookshelf.

My father-in-law gave me a great Christmas gift- a copy of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience (McGraw-Hill, 2009, ISBN 978-0071636087). I spend about half of my career using presentation skills, either as a business intelligence instructor, conference speaker, or technical sales consultant.  So I was really pumped that he got something I really wanted but forgot to put on my Christmas wish list.


The book is a nicely structured analysis of one of the technology world’s most fascinating personalities, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.  The author, Carmine Gallo, is a professional communication skills coach.  He takes readers through the entire lifecycle of a Steve Jobs presentation, starting from planning (“Create the Story”), delivery (“Deliver the Experience”) and preparation (“Refine and Rehearse”).  There are other books that focus on creating slides or giving demos – this book is comprehensive and covers the entire experience.

Steve Jobs speaks to a general audience and Mr. Gallo writes frequently about how Steve communicates about technical features in a non-technical way.  For example, the original iPod was “1,000 songs that fit into your pocket“, not “a digital audio player with a 5 GB hard drive”.  In contrast, I’m usually speaking to a technical audience that wants a deep understanding of technology – they’re not looking to buy anything.  So not all of the material translates to what I do.  But regardless of what kind of presenter you are, holding the audience’s attention is the first order of business.  The book has already influenced how I communicate to non-technical audiences, especially when I train business users how to use SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence.  And I’m looking forward to giving the book a second reading.  I’ll also be checking out the hours of Steve Jobs presentations on YouTube.  And editing my recent GBN 2009 presentations for a second go-around with other audiences.

If your career involves communicating and connecting with an audience, large or small, this book is an excellent addition to your bookshelf.

Have you read The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs? Share your thoughts below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a gift, not from the publisher. It was not a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How to Write Great Abstracts for SAP BusinessObjects User Conferences

Tips on how to write a great abstracts that get accepted.

As a frequent speaker at ASUG and SAP Insider conferences, I’m often asked for tips on how to write a great abstracts that get accepted. Obviously, your number one objective is to convince the selection committee that you have a great presentation. Ideally, you’ll already have a presentation in your back pocket that you’ve developed for customers or your local user group. However, that isn’t necessary – all you need at this stage is a clever title and abstract. The abstract is typically around 100 words, which requires focus. Don’t bother counting words until you’ve written an abstract that you’re satisfied with – then figure out later how to edit it down to the conference host’s word limit.

Your number two objective is two-fold – you’ll want conference attendees to be enticed enough to register for your breakout session. But- and this is important- you also want to be clear about what you are talking about so your attendees aren’t disappointed. I’m always nervous about the first 10 minutes of my breakout because that’s when many folks decide to bolt out of the room and head to their “plan B” session. For example, my 2008 presentation was entitled “CMC Essentials”. And although my session description was fairly clear, I could tell from my feedback that “CMC Security Essentials” would have been a better name. I dealt mainly with security topics, not a general overview of the Central Management Console.

Here’s a third objective – be specific, if not downright narrow. I’m sure that the committee will receive many presentations called “Crystal Reports Tips and Tricks”, “Web Intelligence Tips and Tricks”, or “Xcelsius Tips and Tricks”. These abstracts are difficult for the selection committee to evaluate and may jeopardize your selection because yours doesn’t stand out from the crowd. During your breakout, you only have about 40 minutes to talk and 5 or 10 for questions. It’s not really as much time as you think. Which is a gift. Pick something specific and cover it thoroughly.


Here’s my own story about becoming a conference speaker. After attending my first conference, Insight 2005 in Orlando, Florida, I was totally blown away by all of the great speakers from organizations from Integra Solutions (now integrated into Quorum Business Solutions) so I decided to submit a single abstract for Insight 2006. I was surprised as anyone when I received notice that I was selected to go to San Francisco, California. But I picked something that I thought was fairly unique and that the selection committee would either love or hate. After being selected, the conference organizers revised my title into something catchy and made some minor edits to the abstract. This was the final result:

Getting Personal with Publications and Profiles
If you’re considering effective ways to process and distribute personalized reports to a large audience, this session is for you. Learn how to use BusinessObjects XI Release 2 publications to minimize database resources through single-pass report bursting, and how to personalize reports according to individual user or group profiles. See live examples of both methods of traversing profiles (Tree Walk and Walk-and-Merge), and investigate several Desktop Intelligence features that will take your personalized report distribution to the next level.

And here’s another example, my abstract for Insight 2007 in Orlando, Florida:

Secure Universes Using Restriction Sets
Do you need to tailor universe security to specific users or groups within your organization? Attend this session to learn about restriction sets and how they can apply security to selected groups or user accounts for the universe. Hear how applied restrictions can control objects, rows, query types, and connections. See live demonstrations on how to use each type of restriction and the effect they have on user Web Intelligence documents.

For those of you who are IT professionals, notice that both of these are a bit “sales-y”, not just a dull technological rant. Try to make your topic as sexy as possible. But not too sexy. Yeah, I know – universe restriction sets aren’t exactly sexy. But they are useful and my presentation was able to help lots of people with real project requirements.

One last thought – I have been a consultant for most of my professional career. Consultants probably have some extra incentive to practice becoming good speakers. But non-consulting IT professionals shouldn’t feel slighted. Despite how jacked up you may think your employer is, there are always things that your team does well that other organizations struggle with. If you don’t believe me, hang out at your local user group – you really do have something to contribute. Feel free to bring your practical experiences as well as your business domain (CPG, manufacturing, retail, etc.) in to your presentation.

What do you have to lose by writing an abstract? Nothing! What do you have to gain? Some valuable experience and a free conference pass. Good luck!

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