One of Dan Kennedy's Early Mentors

On July 24, 2009, James Tolleson passed away. For those who do not know, Mr. Tolleson was an early mentor, and later a client and business associate of Dan Kennedy.

James was one of the leading Motivators in the 80’s having influenced many, just one of his many tape sets sold over Half a Million copies.

His message is just as relevant today as it was then.
To get a glimpse of his thinking,
(notice the reference of the ‘economy’), watch this…

TJ Walker’s Secret to Foolproof Presentations


The One BIG SecretIf there’s one thing we all need to know above and beyond anything else, it’s this: Presentations are all about the AUDIENCE, and not about the speaker. If you take nothing else away from this brief, it’s got to be this.

Even people who know this advice can still get so caught up in their content that when it comes to making a presentation that they forget the whole reason people are listening. Your audience wants to hear what you have to say, but ONLY because they want to know what’s in it for them.

You know this is so true. Think about yourself as a member of any audience. Do you go to a conference to listen to speaker because you want to hear something totally irrelevant in your life?

No, of course not. When you listen, you’re listening for what you can take away from that speaker. You’re thinking: What’s in it for me? What’s the great insight that will change my life? What awesome advice is going to make the biggest impact on my bottom line?

And even though it’s incredibly obvious, this is just one major insight we all need to hear. It’s so obvious that we forget to pay attention to how true it is. Because, regardless of how great we think we are at speaking, whether it’s to a large audience or in a simple conversation, the absolute truth is that without the audience, we might as well be saying NOTHING at all.

So, the major action item this week is to STOP focusing on you. A great presentation is not about showing off your speaking talent (or lack thereof). It’s about giving your audience what THEY WANT.

The next insight sheds some light on how to give them what they want.

Same Skills, New SettingThink about any super- interesting conversation you’ve ever had.

  • Was it completely one-sided or was it engaging?
  • Were you listening passively or were you actively involved?
  • Was the other person focused completely on themselves or also interested in you?

I realize these are probably very loaded questions, but again, this is a major insight that’s totally obvious and so many of us fall into that trap of ignoring the truth about speaking:

If you’ve ever had an interesting conversation, then you already have the skills to put on a great presentation. Just take the same skills you already have and put them to use in a new setting.

It’s about engaging your audience (even if you’re only speaking to a handful of people).

One of the best ways to engage people is by telling a story that makes a very clear point.

Several briefs ago, for example, I told you how important it was to have a creative voicemail greeting. To drive that point home, I told you about my voicemail greeting which told callers I might be a little late getting back to them, as my iPhone had fallen into a lake.

Chances are, if you watched that brief, you remember that story – because it’s a story. And that’s exactly what TJ Walker suggests we all need to do. Tell a story. Be engaging. Make the point and make it clear.

Beyond just getting your listener’s attention by telling great stories, you’ve also got to be interested in THEM. So, why not ask questions and let them answer? Respond to their questions in a way that honestly says, I AM paying attention to you and I CARE what you have to say.

These are skills you already have. But a lot of times we tend to think of making a presentation as some new skill that we don’t really have yet. That’s just not true. If you can speak, you can make a presentation. It’s really just a matter of changing your mindset.

Instead of thinking of your daily conversations as a time to chit chat with other people, why not start thinking of every conversation you hold as a mini-presentation? After all, everything you say represents who you are. You are your brand, and so every conversation now becomes relevant to your brand—your reputation, that it—if you’ll just think of it that way.

But if your biggest worry is about giving a bad presentation, pay especially close attention to the next insight.

Boring Equals BadThe only real way to screw up a presentation, and this applies especially to large audiences, is to make it boring.

Can you imagine being part of the audience at a presentation where the speaker is so out of touch with reality that they actually READ a speech from notes… verbatim… in monotone….from behind a podium… dressed in all grey… with bad lighting….

I could go on with this illustration, but I’ll spare you and just remind you to think of Ben Stein’s part in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Bueler… Bueler”

The point is that the world’s worst presentations are bad BECAUSE they are boring. So, if you want to avoid giving a BAD presentation, what you really need to avoid is being boring.

There’s a few ways to do this. First, as I said before, make sure to actually engage the audience. Then, be sure to move around. Don’t fiddle with your hands, but use your hands to make gestures.

Take it up a notch by shouting every once in a while, and don’t be afraid to get a little crazy. If you play up your role as the presenter, you’d be surprised what you can make people do. When you’re the one in the spotlight, a simple request such as, “Everyone stand up. Now stand on one foot and jump,” can actually get a rise from your audience. Sure it’s a little nutty, but it’s definitely NOT boring, and it WILL get their attention.

One thing you do not want to draw too much attention to, though, is mistakes. And that’s our next insight.

How to Handle MistakesOne of the worst ways I’ve seen presentations tank is when the speaker draws attention to their own mistakes. It’s one of the absolute worst things you can do as a presenter.

First, if you’ve made a mistake, you need to understand that the only way most people will know is if YOU tell THEM. So, don’t tell them!

Second, the problem with drawing attention to your own mistakes is that is causes you to lose credibility. The last thing you’d want is for your audience to think you seriously don’t have a clue simply because you made a mistake.

And finally, once you start picking on your own mistakes, other people will do the same. So, why make yourself a target? If you make a mistake, and you will, just move on as naturally as possible. If you skipped over something important, just come back to it, by saying something like, “And by the way, another point I’d like to make about XYZ was….” And go on with the conversation smoothly.

I’ll also add that chances are, YOU are your harshest critic. What may be considered a mistake by you might be completely unnoticeable by everyone else. My wife sings opera, often in foreign languages. Maybe one person in ten-thousand will know if she made a mistake. But she’s a perfectionist when it comes to opera, and from her point of view, she’s making mistakes all the time – constantly improving. But could you imagine an opera singer stopping the performance and calling out her own mistakes? Then don’t do it to your performance.

Make it memorableThe final insight for this week is probably the hardest one of all. The key to making great presentations is to make them memorable.

Not only do you want your audience to be excited about your topic, but you also want them to act on that excitement. You definitely do NOT want to have them leave the room and never give the presentation another thought.

The four keys to making something memorable are

  1. Branding
  2. Emotion
  3. The After-Presentation Followup

Branding is all about giving the audience a name for the thing you’re doing, saying, or sharing. A name for the memory of the event.

Emotion is the most permanent memory anyone will take away. Years later, you may forget everything Zig Ziglar or Tony Robbins said in any one speech… but you remember how he made you feel when you were watching him.

And for Followup, at the very least, you should give them something to do immediately after the presentation. A call to action is something for them to accomplish immediately after hearing from you. And then, of course, FOLLOW UP with them.

But beyond the standard call to action, let them walk away from your presentation changed in some profound way that will alter the way they do business. Tell them stories that will pull at their emotions. Let them act on their desire to engage you in conversation once the presentation has ended.

A memorable presentation is one that will forever impact their lives, and it’s one that will keep them coming back for more.

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