The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

I Become The Best Weapon North Korea Never Had …
August 20, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

So today I fly off to South Korea to be a judge and speaker at Adstars.

Yes … another conference, another speech, another “holiday” and another week where you don’t have to put up with my inane ramblings on this blog.

That’s a win:win in my book.

Except for the people going to the conference.

Anyway, this leads me to something that I think not enough planners pay attention to and that’s the art of the presentation.

We touched on this subject ages ago with an A[P]SOTW assignment, but I really cannot stress how important it is to be able to present well.

That doesn’t mean just having a clear, consise, informative and inspiring powerpoint/keynote deck, it means being able to present it in a way that conveys energy, enthusiasm, understanding, confidence and credibility.

Yes, I appreciate those are words you wouldn’t normally associate with me, but that aside, HOW you present is easily as important as WHAT you present.

Should that be the case?

No, it would be much better if people judged purely on the quality of work than the quality of the razzmatazz … but the fact is, we’re human beings and we like being entertained, especially when we’re being sold to.

That doesn’t mean we should all joke around and act like fools … nor does it mean tap-dancing is an excuse for a badly thought out presentation … it just means appreciating that people buy people and so if your approach is to basically read whatever is on the presentation screen verbatum, you’d better hope you’re explaining the secret to life or you might be beaten by someone who has a better ability to connect to an audience.

So how do you do it?

Well that’s the million dollar question.

One thing I am quite vehemently opposed to is standardised presentation training.

Sure, it can help with some of the basics [Don’t “ummm” and “ahhhh” when you talk. Don’t walk backwards and forwards while you’re presenting] but basically they try and homogenize the presenting style which undermines the importance of letting your personality shine through.

For me there’s a couple of ‘tricks’.

1. Self Review.

Get someone to watch how you present and preferably video it.

I know … I know … it’s horrible and hard, but it’s the first step to improvement.

2. Watch Others.

It doesn’t matter who they are or even what industry they work in … go and see as many presenters as possible.

Look how they present, write down things that make a big impact on you/the audience – good or bad.

It might the look of their presentation … the way they articulate their points … the tone they use while they talk … doesn’t matter, write them all down and then start grouping them into ‘good point/bad points’.

If possible, try and see people from a variety of industries present – you’d be amazed how different their approaches can be.

I can honestly say that I got more value watching how barristers and architects structure their arguments than pretty much any planner.

That doesn’t mean planners can’t present, but they all tend to have ‘a particular style’ and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the only way to convey your point of view, far from it.

3. Objective Review

So now you’ve seen a bunch of other people present and marked down their good/bad points – it’s time to give yourself some ‘tough love’.

Compare all your notes with the video/comments of your own presentation.

Where are the problems? What can you change? What are you doing well that you can build on?

In a perfect World, you’d of taken someone to all the presentations with you so that you can be sure the things you think are good/bad are genuinely good/bad … but even if you can’t, just comparing yourself to others will help you lift your game – and given so few people do this – it automatically puts you in a better position than most.

4. Go To Improv Class.

Yes, I appreciate this sounds utter wank … but in my mind, the power of presenting lies in your ability to read and react to an audience, rather than blindly going about your business as if they weren’t there.

Improv class is not about changing who you are, it’s about helping you be the best you can be.

It’s about understanding how to use your voice … how to use your body language … how to draw on your personal stories and anecdotes.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve fallen back on a personal experience to convey a particular point.

Doing this makes people feel more at ease … have a connection with you … feel what you’re saying, not just hear it … understand you are giving more than just ‘a presentation’, but talking about something that has a personal resonance – or relevance – with you.

Of course, having a well thought out, well articulated point of view is vital, but if you think that – or just a bunch of pretty slides – is all you need to make a positive and pitch-winning impression, then you’re either kidding yourself or simply presenting to audiences that don’t really matter.

See you next week.

30 Comments so far
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Thanks south korea people.

Comment by Billy Whizz

north koreans will all have a fucking smug look on their face this week.

Comment by andy@cynic

Adstars? hahahahahahaha.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Badstars more like.

Comment by DH

it must be fucking ironic.

Comment by andy@cynic

I don’t think its ironic, I think they just meant to send the invite to the Rob Campbell who founded RKCR/Y&R rather than me. I think that’s who W+K thought they’d hired too. Their loss [of money & credibility] is my gain.

Comment by Rob

Anyone reading this blog. The advice is ok but don’t let rob choose the improv class. He chooses teachers who are all bitter about not making it in hollywood and take everything too fucking seriously. Or he chooses an acting class where you have to perform to all your laughing, wanker colleagues in the shitty audience.

Comment by Billy Whizz

We weren’t laughing at you. OK, we were. Comedy gold.

Comment by DH

Yeah, because you were Christian Bale weren’t you.

Comment by Billy Whizz

No wonder you are disappearing for a week, this is the longest run of good posts you might have ever done. Great points and great advice, though I have to agree with Billy that the improv/acting class was not my favorite part of working with you, even if it did make me a better presenter.

Comment by Pete

what was your favourite part, resigning?

and favourite has a fucking ‘u’ in it.

Comment by andy@cynic

I know Pete … it’s horrid … but it worked, which is why a couple of my guys are about to embark on a similar ‘course of action’ very soon.

[Read: when I’m out of the country so they can’t hit me]

Comment by Rob

hes only semi fucking good at presenting because he thinks hes back on stage doing fucking guitar solos for shit singers and bands from the fucking 80s and 90s. fact

Comment by andy@cynic

Stop quoting Steve Henry and claiming it as your own.

Comment by Rob

the fucker just said what id been thinking for years.

Comment by andy@cynic

There is more than a hint of truth to that comment. Another good post Robert, I hope it continues on your return.

Comment by George

Excellent, hopefully you’ll use your holiday masquerading as work to write more stuff like this
One more thing, build a picture library, so you’re not relying on crap from corbis.
And read as much about storytelling as you can – inciting incidents, crisis, resolution etc

Comment by northern

That is a great point … though in my case, I just use the same presentation over and over again, let alone the pictures.

Comment by Rob

I heard you get your interns to call you ‘Dear Leader’…!

If agencies only accept one style of presenting then they will just lose out on the styles and quirks of individuals.

Look at Marcus, he’s not the most traditional of presenters, but he always makes you want to listen to what he says, and you always feel like you’ve learnt something.

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

enjoying your korean getaway. prick.

Comment by andy@cynic


This was what I woke up to this morning:

Comment by Rob

Errrrm, no I didn’t, I woke up to this:

[I’m not a weird, sad, cat ladyman. Honest]

Comment by Rob

you want to fucking bet on it campbell?

Comment by andy@cynic

The cat is out of the bag..

Comment by northern

Not enough bricks?

Comment by John

That is so wrong

Comment by northern

My wife is going to whoop your ass for that comment Mr Dodds.

Comment by Rob

But she doesn’t read this nonsense and it’s NP’s fault anyway because I’m bored waiting for him to moderate the comments I left on his blog. Last time, I throw compliments around.

Comment by John

They are published Mr Grumpy. And and yes, absorption, pedant

Comment by northern

Great advice. In the storytelling/who’s line is it anyway of it, remember to make a journey of it – give backstory, add a dilemma or dead end – how you got here wasn’t necessarily easy. And make like Frank TJ Mackey.

Comment by Sid

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