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The Naked Presenter - Book Review

1 January 2012
Dr. Moria Levy
book cover

"The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides" represents the third installment in a series authored by Garr Reynolds in 2011. Consistent with his earlier works, this book delves into the art of presentation delivery. While the initial book focused on overall presentation planning and the second on slide preparation, this third installment revolves around standing in front of the audience.


Aligned with his previous writings, the book draws inspiration from Zen culture, embellishing itself with captivating photographs that mirror the beauty of its content. The title, "The Naked Presenter," encapsulates a worldview suggesting that by shedding mannerisms, costumes, formality, and other societal trappings, a presenter can achieve optimal delivery.


The book explores the following topics:
  1. Preparation beforehand

  2. Opening

  3. Body

  4. Finish


The book's summary provides essential insights, reserving the detailed stories, explanations, and photographs for the original text. Additionally, it is recommended to explore Reynolds' previous books, with summaries on the ROM Global website.

Wishing you an enjoyable reading experience.


Preparation beforehand

Most preparation recommendations are in Reynolds' first book, "Presentation Zen." Nevertheless, here is a compilation of some preparation tips:

  • Creativity is essential for a presentation. Take time alone, outside the office, to plan it.

  • Define the goal: articulate the message you wish to convey and the change you aim to instigate among participants. Plan the presentation accordingly.

  • Ask yourself- "Why." Delve into why the topic and conclusion matter. A thorough answer guides the preparation of the presentation.

  • Plan a lecture that either provides a lateral overview or delves deeply, not both.

  • Integrate stories and case studies to facilitate audience connection and retention.

  • Incorporate video clips and combine images for variety and emotional connection; ensure visuals are large enough to be impactful.

  • Address conflicts, both big and small, involving diverse elements such as color, age, direction, etc.

  • Avoid presenting mere statistics and facts; demonstrate their meaning.

  • Understand the target audience; tailor presentations to suit different audiences.


Prepare thoroughly, but avoid excessive rehearsal.

On the day of the presentation:

  • Dress appropriately; err on the side of being slightly more formal and dignified than the prevailing dress in the audience.

  • Arrive early.

  • Prepare the room.

  • Encourage people to sit in the front.

  • Interact with the audience, learning their names and stories if possible. Referencing individuals during the presentation enhances rapport. Engaging in preliminary dialogue helps you relax and feel more prepared.


Recall Aristotle's wisdom: A good speech appeals to reason, stirs emotions, and captivates based on the character and personality of the speaker.


Opening

The opening is a crucial element for overall success. In the initial 2-3 minutes, there is an opportunity to capture the audience's hearts and compel them to engage with the entire presentation. During this time, individuals typically decide whether to remain open and attentive or disengage.


The recommendations are encapsulated in the English word PUNCH, representing potential effective openings:

  • Personal: Commence with something unique to you. For instance, start with a picture of your children and discuss the importance of adhering to workplace safety rules as a responsibility for our families.

  • Unexpected: Introduce something unexpected, challenging commonly held beliefs, or present a statement that defies consensus.

  • Novel: Present something new, not seen or introduced before.

  • Challenging: Propose something mentally challenging or challenge the audience's existing assumptions. For instance, ask the audience if they believe in something unrelated to the main topic of the lecture.

  • Humorous: Infuse humor into the opening. Laughter has a liberating effect and fosters

    connection.


It is advisable never to begin with an epilogue (which can be boring). Avoid displaying a table of contents initially; discuss the lecture's structure after the opening if necessary.

Body

Recommendations:

  • Consider the presentation as an ongoing conversation, not merely a one-time event.

  • Be natural, honest, and straightforward; avoid presenting something prepared in advance or memorized just for the sake of it. Be authentic.

  • Avoid being dull; refrain from reading a speech or slides verbatim. Create a presence, showing passion for the topic and the lecture. Leaders embody this approach.

  • Manage your fear. It's normal to feel afraid when speaking in front of an audience. Acknowledge and control fear through thorough preparation.

  • Avoid standing behind the podium; make eye contact with your audience to connect and create a closer bond. Walking among the audience or at least on stage is preferable. Use a remote control for slides to avoid staying in one place.

  • Invest energy in your voice; vary the rhythm and intensity. A monotonous voice is challenging to listen to over time.

  • Use understandable language and speak at eye level with your audience.

  • Ensure adequate lighting in the hall or on yourself. Being well-seen is crucial for establishing a connection.

  • Don't cover every detail on the subject; leave the audience curious and wanting more.

  • Don't become enslaved to technology.

  • If you make a mistake, stand tall and continue. The show must go on.

  • Engage your audience by asking questions, creating small groups for tasks or brainstorming, and encouraging sub-discussions. Dialogues, surveys, role-playing, and volunteers can all enhance participation.

  • Avoid being monotonous: change your speaking style, content, and activation level.

  • Don't use up all the time; finishing a bit early is better. Be on time to conclude.

  • Smile, play, and have fun. Maintain a calm demeanor.


Remember: your goal is to contribute, connect with the audience, and persuade them to embrace change.


Finish

While commencing with a "strong" opening is crucial, it's equally vital for the conclusion of the presentation to leave an even more impactful impression. Despite the conventional advice to end by summarizing, it is suitable but insufficient.


Recommendations:

  • Aim for a short, simple, and elegant ending.

  • Prefer an unexpected conclusion.

  • Opt for an ending that taps into emotions.

  • Consider concluding with a quote.

  • Incorporate humor if appropriate.

  • Conclude with a story, potentially one started at the beginning of the lecture.


Remember that the ultimate goal is to inspire change; consider issuing a call for change.


For the question-and-answer session at the end of the lecture, adhere to these recommendations:

  • Maintain your energy and passion; be patient.

  • Keep your responses brief; wait until the end of a question, even if you anticipate the questioner's aim.

  • Repeat audience questions to ensure everyone has heard.

  • Feel free to pose questions in return.


Know when (and how) to conclude gracefully.

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