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March 15, 2003

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Presenting to Win

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 4:32 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story by Jerry Weissman, Financial Times Prentice Hall, 304 Pages, $24.95 Hardcover, ISBN 0130464139
With all the focus put on high-tech communication gadgets and complex strategic techniques, its easy to forget about the fundamental basics of communication. This book, by Jerry Weissman, the presentation coach for the CISCO IPO and others, brings us back to focus on what is really important: communicating ideas clearly and effectively. He shows how to do this in successful presentations time and time again.
Weissman starts off with the common mistakes people make (the Five Cardinal Sins), and then gives an example of a power presentation. He says that a lot of the problem in presentations is that the speaker doesnt have a focused, cohesive presentation. Weissman urges readers to get the story straight, be sure of what you want to say, and the rest will more easily fall in place. When you dont have a clear agenda, your supporting points get blurred, too. So, as a speaker, you need to focus, and then persuade your audience to come around to your point. Weissman stresses the importance of knowing your audience and being an audience advocate. If you are going to try to pitch something, you should put yourself in your audiences shoes in order to ...connect with the[ir] feelings, desires, wishes, fears, and passions. Keeping those things in mind will make it easier for you to focus on what you need to tell them to get them to act in the direction you want them to.
There are also many things to avoid in your presentation. Mainly things that make the audiences understanding more difficult, like dumping tons of data on them (numbers do not speak for themselves), showing cluttered slides, using vague text in visuals, etc. It seems pretty common sense, but Weissman stresses how such things are distractions and do not help your communication. There are several chapters on the visual part of a presentation and how to make it attractive, clear, and ultimately effective.
Each chapter is full of real-world examples that help you see Weissmans theories in action. At the end of the book, he includes an appendix which outlines the major concepts of the book. This part will prove to be extremely useful as a reminder/checklist for yourself as you prepare your next presentationwhether its a small informal meeting with your employees about the organizations progress and future, or a long series of presentations on your IPO road show.