3 bullets on a slide. 1 slide per minute. Stand Still. Don’t fidget, memorize your slides. Now get up in front of a 100 people and do what I just told you. If you have been to Presentation training, you have probably heard many of these “Rules” before. You’ve been given the “right” way to present; the ONLY way to present. Yet it somehow feels like an unnatural act.
Over the last 10 years we’ve worked with thousands of clients in a range of industries. All of them know that if you want to get ahead, you have to be good on your feet. They’ve been to presentation seminars, Toastmasters and Dale Carnegie programs. From the most experienced CEO’s to the newest recruits, everyone’s secret wish is to be a better presenter, to nail that pitch or persuade one more person. Yet — and you know this in your heart — the general standard of presenting is very poor. Why? Pretty much everyone preaches one way to do it. And that’s just plain wrong.
There are 6 types of presenter. If you understand which one you are, if you understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie, you can get better. But the path forward is not the same for everyone.
Diagnose your presenter type. Take one minute to find your presenter type for fast-acting relief from PowerPoint pain.
1. The Coach
Is an energetic and personable speaker, who’s great at connecting and engaging people by doing and role-playing. They are better live than remote or over the phone. They usually very passionate about the topic and let that shine through.
The Coach can quickly lose passion and enthusiasm with a low energy audience. They have a tendency to talk more than listen. May move too quickly for the audience, and not connect the dots for them.
The Coach will dive right into building a deck and start with the slides that come easily. To practice, they go to a quiet place, pace up and down with a script, talk to themself to commit what they want to say to memory.
Example: Rick Perry
2. The Inventor
Typically the last person to volunteer to make a public presentation, the Inventor is very good at connecting ideas for people and building logical sequences. They are usually much more comfortable once finished and working through a Q&A.
The Inventor has difficulty holding large quantities of information in their head. They can get stuck searching for just the right word and worry about forgetting something important.
The Inventor will start building a deck right away, by either writing a script or building slides. They start with key pieces. Building the deck gives them a firm grasp of the material so they tend not to practice much. They are very uncomfortable speaking off someone else’s work.
Example: Steve Jobs
3. The Counselor
An eloquent speaker who likes to talk about ideas. The Counselor has an accurate and organized talk track, and a relentless stream of logic that’s easy to follow. They can move easily between big picture and detail.
The Counselor can make the same presentation to an empty room as a large audience. They may fail to connect to and engage with the audience. Can be very dry and clinical. They tend to use big words where they aren’t required.
The counselor builds by pulling slides together from previous decks, sequencing and re-sequence slides to feel comfortable with the flow and structure.
Example: Barack Obama
4. The Storyteller
A natural storyteller who speaks with feeling and rhythm. They can win an audience over easily. They use powerful and emotive words typically organized around what needs to get done. They add depth and detail through story and experience.
By embellishing and adding detail to the story, the storyteller can lose the structure and flow for the audience. They tend not to track to slides, confusing the audience. Find it difficult to dry run well in front of empty rooms.
The Storyteller prefers someone else to build their slides. This process can have a lot of stops and starts as they sort in their own mind what they want to say. These short monologues and conversations with the mini-audience prior to the big show is the way the storyteller practices.
Examples: Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee.
5. The Teacher
The Teacher cares more about their material than the people in the audience. They may inadvertently disconnect from their audience, missing non-verbal cues and become distant. Visuals they use may be overly complex “wiring diagrams.”
The Teacher starts with an outline and builds a talk-track off it. They tend to builds decks in a logical order and use visuals to illustrate ideas and points.
Examples: Mitt Romney, Al Gore.
6. The Coordinator
Prefers to be in the audience rather than the presenter, they nevertheless give organized, well-structured presentations, moving and gesturing as they speak. Their slides are visually meticulous and trigger a well thought out talk-track.
The Coordinator is less comfortable speaking, but prefers working through their material than in a freeform Q&A environment. They are not comfortable working off others material.
The Coordinator starts with an outline and builds key points, usually reflecting personal experience. They then prepare and sequence their deck.
Everyone has natural strengths and weaknesses when it comes to presenting, yet most people use PowerPoint in a way that exaggerates their weaknesses instead of playing to their strengths. One size does not fit all, and following a set of “rules” that would work well for an inventor won’t work for a storyteller. What are you?
Gavin is a founding partner at fassforward consulting group. He blogs about PowerPoint, Presenting, Communication and Message Discipline at makeapowerfulpoint.com. You can follow him on twitter @powerfulpoint.