Shel popped me an email to see if I would kindly read and review his newest book, Stellar Presentations: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Giving Great Talks, and I happily obliged. Shel Israel explains the impetus behind this book himself:
I decided to write Stellar Presentations, a small book for a niche market that I know and love. This is a book for tech entrepreneurs who need to present at conferences. I hope you find it useful.
To me, however, it is so much more. This book is conversation and personal, allowing the rest of us to have a taste of Shel as our personal business coach.
While the book gets into the nitty gritty of presenting your new tech start-up to venture capitalists, it’s much more generally accessible than that. It offers tips that can be mapped to any sort of presentation you’ll need to make on any subject because it addresses issues interesting to anyone who needs to do any sort of public speaking. For example, I believe I will stop winging it when I am up on stage. Shel has finally convinced me that practice does make perfect and even though I may well be a subject matter expert, I am not a public speaking expert, which is something needs to prepare for:
I don’t wish to overstate my point. You probably don’t have time to practice 10,000 hours for your talk. Nor is the challenge before you quite as difficult as composing a Mozart masterpiece. But public speaking does require a lot of practice.
But this sort of practice demands brevity and prioritization because time is the enemy of the presenter’s presentation:
As a speaker, your constraint is not space, but time. The inverted pyramid structure will also work for you. It disciplines you to get your best points out at the top. If you find that you are running short of time, then you can comfortably chop out the lesser details before reaching your deadline.
You may be the last speaker in a long day at a third tier event, but when you speak from a stage these days, you have to assume that anyone in the world could be listening in and somewhere someone will check out your assertions. Even the smallest fib is like a loose thread in the fabric of your talk. It may get pulled and everything will unravel.
Finally, Shel reminded me that at the end of the day, your presentation will probably suck and you probably won’t be able to connect with your audience if you’re stiff and can’t quite loosen up enough to enjoy yourself:
Making a public presentation is damn hard. But if you really want to succeed, if you really wish to be stellar, then have as much fun as you possibly can while standing in front of the room.
Oh, and one final delicious piece of advice that you can take away from this review on the way to your Kindle to buy Stellar Presentations:
The best remedy for a crackling throat is a few slices of cantaloupe before speaking. Other melons will help, but nothing works quite like cantaloupe.
Now that’s advice I can get on board with!
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