Issue #159 May 13, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Learn From Great Presentations

One of the best ways to get better at presenting is to watch other presenters who are better than yourself. It is a time-tested principle that is true in many endeavors, be it sports, music or business: watch the best and learn from them. Today I want to point you to a web site that contains the audio and many times a written transcript of what scholars have deemed to be the top 100 speeches of the modern era. The web site is and is a great source of material for being inspired at how spoken words can literally change lives. I encourage you to visit the site, bookmark it and visit regularly to spend time listening to the greatest speeches of our time by people like Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, FDR and many others. As you listen to their speeches, pay attention to the following as points to remember and incorporate when you speak. The first thing you will notice about every one of these speeches is the passion of the speaker for the topic they are speaking about. Not all of the speeches are inspirational, a number were made on sad occasions. But the one thing that is common with all is the passion. When you next present, how passionate will you be about your topic? By speaking on those topics you are most passionate about, you will become a better presenter. Second, listen to how they have phrased what they said. Great speeches have carefully chosen words, ones that are not complex, but are simple yet powerful. When you prepare your next presentation, what words will you choose? If you don’t rehearse what you are going to say, your word choice is left to chance. By rehearsing your presentation, you have a chance to select the best words to make your point. Words that have an impact and will be remembered. Finally, in the speeches that are inspirational in nature, listen for how the speaker has carefully structured the message to build to the conclusion they need to reach. Too many presentations are haphazard, rambling from one place to the next with no clear path to a destination. Learn the lessons of these great speeches in structuring your persuasive presentations to reach a clearly defined goal at the end. Delivering a great PowerPoint presentation should not be primarily about the slides. They can play an important supporting role, but what you say and how you say it is far more important. Today’s resource will help you take your speaking to the next level by learning from the greatest speakers of our time.