Back To The Basics For a Solid Presentation

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.

We’ve all heard the proposition that the three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) form the basis for a solid education.  Proponents of this approach argue school curriculums have become cluttered with extraneous courses and activities at the expense of the fundamentals. The result they say, is that we graduate students without even minimal levels of competency. We’d benefit from looking at the basis for a solid presentation as well.  Today’s presentation technology that includes whiz bang special effects, the ability to incorporate multimedia elements into electronic slide shows and a plethora of font types, sizes and colors is producing more and more presentations that neglect the fundamentals by focusing too much on the superfluous.   Read the article

Sell Before You Tell

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”  However, you’ll never be successful teaching him how to, until he understands why he’d “want to.”  Business development operates the same way. Presenters sometimes jump ahead of that “want to” phase and spend their time simply talking about the best way to implement their service before making the case why it’s beneficial.  They’ve made the mistake of telling, before selling prospects on the idea.  In their zeal to provide information and share their expertise, they’ve neglected the fact that prospects must first be persuaded, before they’re instructed.  Read the article

How to Make Complex Ideas Understood

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.

There’s no reason presentations, even highly technical presentations, have to put audiences to sleep or leave them utterly confused. Strategically placing examples throughout your presentation both reinforces your key messages and adds life to the material. Statistics and technical data are often the first choice for supporting materials, but their use in presentations is like adding spice to food. Some adds flavor, but too much is overwhelming. You don’t want your presentation to become a mere “infodump.” The next time you’re designing a presentation, consider using one of these five “proof points” that add a human touch and help complex ideas be more easily understood. Read the article

And That Concludes

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.


Have you ever witnessed a speaker end a presentation by “telegraphing” the conclusion with a phrase such as “Thank you” or “That concludes my presentation”? Speakers who rely on such phrases to trigger audience applause are like the driver who stops not because he’s reached his destination, but because he’s run out of gas. Effective presentations don’t simply end. Instead, they conclude by creating intellectual reinforcement, psychological closure and a behavioral roadmap. Read the article

Perils of Audience Interaction

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.

Advice about effective presentations usually includes some ideas about how to involve your audience. Presentations with high levels of interactivity can certainly benefit from increased audience retention, greater understanding and more commitment to action—but only if you involve them in the right way and understand the potential perils.  Unfortunately, many techniques to add interaction backfire because they make the audience feel uncomfortable, alienated or patronized. Here are the three cardinal sins of audience interactivity. Read the article

7 Deadly Sins of Presentation Technology

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.

Presenters today tend to rely heavily on the latest technology to deliver their message.  Overhead projectors have joined the Jurassic age, replaced by slick notebook computers and multimedia projectors.  While this new technology has the potential to enhance your presentations, it also carries its own risks.  Remember Murphy’s Law? “Things will go wrong in any given situation if you give them a chance” holds especially true for gadgets and gizmos during a presentation.  You can keep an already stressful situation from worsening if you’ll avoid these 7 Deadly Sins of Presentation Technology. Read the article

Lost in Translation

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.

At initial meetings, prospects will only have a few moments to size you up.  After looking at how you’re dressed and how you carry yourself, the next bit of data they’ll use to make judgments about you is what you say. Prospects use your interactions as a barometer of what they can expect from you.  Consequently, your language choices take on a significance that transcends the moment. Even interactions that occur much later will be filtered through that initial perception. Read the article

Tuning in to the Generational Zeitgeist

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.

While it’s always been true that audiences respond best when your presentation is tuned into their radio station WIIFT (What’s In It For Them), younger audiences present an increasingly challenging demographic for today’s presenters. A generational zeitgeist now defines many audiences you may find yourself presenting to.  With four generations (baby boomers, generation X, generation Y and millennials) present among the working population, it becomes increasingly difficult to adapt messages to generationally diverse audiences. Success in presenting to these audiences will depend largely on your ability to adapt your messages to their frame of reference. Read the article

Lose Less Business With Better Presentation Skills

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.

Presentations offer a variety of benefits as a prospecting tool.  They’re low-cost, they position you as an advisor rather than as a salesperson and they can be highly-leveraged. But when delivered without a carefully thought out strategy, presentations can actually damage your credibility with prospects.  Here are some common mistakes to avoid that will help you lose less business. Read the article

Follow These Guidelines To Make Your Language Stick

by Joseph Sommerville, Ph.D.

When you give a presentation, the verbal channel of communication refers to the words you use to communicate your message.  We all hope our ideas “stick” with the audience.  We want the audience to understand and act upon them. To make your language “stick”, it needs to be not only clear, but powerful as well. Follow these guidelines to add clarity and force to your language. Read the article


32111 Damon
Magnolia, TX 77354

Blog Archive