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The Three Secrets of Any Presentation

Just as I was about to start a recent full-day seminar on business presentation skills, David walked up, looked me in the eye, and said, “I hate making presentations. I’m just no good at it. I hope you can fix me today.”

Well, that’s a tall order – considering there were over 100 in attendance. How could I ‘fix’ David while simultaneously meeting everyone else’s unique needs?

Fortunately, I was given outstanding advice when I was starting my speaking career. This advice has remained consistently on target through over 2,100 presentations spread over 25 years. And it’s a simple formula anyone can follow in any setting.

“Every presentation must contain the Three E’s.”

Here’s what they are.

John Hall, SPA Speaker, Author & Consultant

John J. Hall’s highly customized “Do What You Can!” keynotes and workshops outline his unique, 6-step system to help leaders and teams clarify business goals, measure their progress, and achieve those goals. It’s simple. It’s powerful. And it works. These programs captivate your audience while delivering substantive information. Participants are inspired to step up, take action, support their organizations’ goals – and take leaps to reach their own professional and personal goals.

#1 – Educate. Every presentation must contain information that’s useful to the audience. “How to” ideas work best, but even background information on why something works might meet the need for useful educational content.

When preparing for your next talk, concentrate on the information needs of the audience. Never forget: It’s always about them. Always! Teach them something useful in every presentation.

#2 – Encourage. Outstanding presenters encourage their listeners. Even the most technical business presentation must help audience members believe that the work they do every day is important and makes a difference to the success of the organization. Long ago I ran out of fingers and toes counting the times that business technical speakers lost their audience simply because they did not take the small step of finding a way to encourage the audience members.

Employees crave encouragement. Why not give them a healthy dose. It’s free and it works.

#3 – Entertain. Now I acknowledge that ‘entertain’ might not be the best word to apply here. Singing, dancing and juggling are not the recommended style of business presentations especially in the Boardroom (although it may help in a pinch!).

How about if we pull back and use the softer idea that all presentations must be ‘interesting’ if not outright entertaining. And the easiest way to accomplish making dry technical points interesting is with the two magic words, “For example.” Relevant examples make concepts come alive. Examples provide color, context and flavor.

Hmmm…maybe the ‘Third E ‘ should be Examples!

Try these ideas in your next presentation. Plan your content to include information that educates. Include comments that encourage the audience, and hold their attention by being entertaining through the use of relevant examples and quick stories.

Of course you have to practice and maybe even find a coach. But there’s no substitute for focus, repetition, and the Three E’s. Keep them in mind the next time you are in the audience of a business presentation. Analyze what you see and hear as you plan your own next outstanding presentation.


John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”