This is a series of 10 interviews with the expert coaches during the IESE EMBA Intensive week 2013.  (If you are viewing via rss, video on the blog here).  The Expert Contributors are:

The Speaking Guru Interviews

Questions from You

What questions do you have for next year’s set of expert interviews?

Chiara Ojeda
Chiara Ojeda

Chiara Ojeda who writes the Tweak Your Slides blog has recently posted a new set of visuals called Presenting As Yourself. It has powerful visuals. It provides great reminders of the important aspects of communicating with impact; communicating in a way that engages the audience and lets your message stick.

Presenting As Yourself

What are your favourite books, blogs, youtube videos, general resources on presentation delivery?

“We have study hall at the beginning of our meetings.” says Jeff Bezos.

Staff meetings at Amazon begin with 30 minutes of silent reading.

Powerpoint is easy for presenter, hard for audience

Jeff Bezos of Amazon

“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a powerpoint presentation, some type of slide show.  In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points.  This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience.  And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a 6 page narrative memo.”

All meetings are structured around a 6 page memo

“When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, complete paragraphs it forces a deeper clarity.”

Why don’t you read the memos in advance?

“Time doesnt come from nowhere. This way you know everyone has the time. The author gets the nice warm feeling of seeing their hard work being read.”

“If you have a traditional ppt presentation, executives interrupt.  If you read the whole 6 page memo, on page 2 you have a question but on on page 4 that question is answered.”

And so that is what we do, we just sit and read.

“Think Complex, Speak Simple”

I love this idea.  In our communications courses we talk about “think complex, speak simple”.  It is hard work to prepare well enough to be able to speak simple.  Most presenters are figuring out what they really want to say as they are presenting.  This is a terrible waste of an audience.

This video is “The Single Most Important Ingredient in Becoming Influential”:

These quotes come from the Charlie Rose interview with Jeff Bezos.  It is available here: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12656

NEW August 2015: View the Original email memo sent by Jeff Bezos (thanks to Pete Abilla)

P.S. If you liked this post you might also like 16 Lessons from the European HR Directors Summit and Zero Executive Presence: When I speak, People don’t listen. Why is that?

Discussion of this Post

Twitter:

Lots of Debate on Reddit:

Main Discussion Page http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1ebavs/amazon_staff_meetings_no_powerpoint/

  • [friedice5005] Powerpoint isn’t the problem. It’s a very useful tool to augment information you are trying to get across. The problem is people people who are bad at it using it as a crutch. Powerpoint should basically be an outline of what you’re talking about with MAJOR discussion points and any images or graphs you need to show. It should not be blocks of text that you read verbatim.
  • [via Yajirobi ] if you dont integrate people into it, they just sleep. Forcing them with made up questions is a bad idea too. Getting random questions from the audience is the best way to do it. Its a GIFT. They make the presentation good for you, without any effort from your part.
  • [via EngineerVsMBA]I experienced this system, and I loved it. I will use it in every job from here on out. Let me explain why:1.) It requires meaningful preparation by the presenter. They cannot hide behind pretty slides, and you can’t use the usual confusion tactics. If you can’t fit it in six pages, you didn’t prepare enough.2.) You know everyone is going to read it.3.) These meetings are intense! The participants can’t just sit back and relax. They are digging into it. If you are the presenter, you can use that time to send some emails, or do some other work.4.) People with poor communication skills can’t suck the life out of a meeting. It allows good ideas to come out. There is always that guy that talks too much, and this meeting shuts him up.5.) This isn’t for the every-day meeting. This is for the multi-million-dollar business deal. Anything you would typically reserve for an hour-long power-point presentation.Power-point is for selling a concept or an idea. The written word is for discussion. Anyways, a good exec will print out the power points and make notes on those anyways. Might as well tell him exactly what you think instead of letting him interpret your spoken word.

Related Posts on Meetings:

I am sitting in an audience at a conference.  This third speaker today started well.  He seems interesting and speaks with passion.

He is now on his seventh powerpoint slide.

Each slide is interesting and well designed.  He has worked hard to find good images and pithy quotes.

My neighbour leans in towards me.  I lean towards him.

He whispers to me.

He says: “What is this guy telling us again?”

“What is this guy telling us again?”

My neighbour fishes his iPhone out of his pocket and gets back to something that seems more important to him: reading email.

Sadly, this is a common occurrence.

The 4 Vital Questions for Every Slide

Every time you show an audience a Powerpoint slide, the audience needs you to answer 4 Vital questions:

  1. “What is this?”
  2. “What is important [for the audience]?”
  3. “What does this mean [for the audience]?”
  4. “Give me a specific example [relevant to the audience]?”

An Economic Example:

picketty-income

  1. “This is a graph showing the share of income going to the richest people over the period 1913 through to 2008”
  2. “It is important to note the two peaks – one in 1929 and one where we are today – here at the right edge.  These peaks show high levels of income inequality”
  3. “If we look back over history, each time a society has allowed income inequality to reach the levels that we see today – there has been a war, a revolution or a rebellion by the people against the leaders of the society”
  4. “Today we are seeing a deep lost of trust in politicians, institutions – in particular large banks and global corporates – because the current income distribution is becoming increasingly unfair to those who work, rather than those who own capital.”

Make Sure Your Slides are Relevant

If you don’t have these 4 answers in a way that is relevant for the audience, you are not serving the audience.  If you can’t answer these 4 questions, delete the slide.

If it is not adding, it subtracts.  If it is not relevant to them, it is irrelevant.

Delete the slide. Yes, delete it.

Less is more.

In my 8 years as a management consultant at Accenture, preparing a presentation was synonymous with preparing the Powerpoint slides.  “Hey Neill!  Proposal presentation this Friday…” – I immediately opened Powerpoint and started creating slides…

A lot of powerpoint is not Great Powerpoint.

Great Powerpoint can be a powerful addition to a great speech.  As the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words.  Strong photos can powerfully impact an audience with a message.

Finding great photos is easier today than ever before.  Sites like Flickr.com or Google Images allow you to search through massive databases of Creative Commons images that you can use in your presentations.

There is a problem.

Most Powerpoint slides are not photos.  They are mostly text.

Written text is processed in our brain via the aural pathways.  Although text is read by the eyes, it is not really processed as a visual medium.  We turn the shapes into sounds via a voice inside our heads and process the language through our aural processors.

If you are a speaker and put text on slides, you are competing for attention.  

You are competing with yourself.

There are two voices competing for the attention of the listener’s mind – your voice, and their own silent inner voice reading your slides aloud in their minds.

Text is not a Visual Aid.  

Text is not processed through the brain’s visual pathways.  If you want to support your speech with visuals, use images that are processed directly through the brain’s visual channels.  Use photos.  Use simple line drawings like Dan Roam’s back of the Napkin visuals.

My Recommended Resources for Great Powerpoint: