If you want to be a great public speaker, your preparation has to be more than just blasting gangsta rap and shadow boxing in front of the mirror. Whether you have to videotape yourself speaking, join a presentation club, or rewrite your PowerPoint deck 40 times, it's important to be able to tell your own story. Few of us are born with the gift of public speaking but with a little preparation we can learn to persuade, sell and inspire.
1. How Not to Suck at a Group Presentation: LA-based investor Mark Suster teaches startup companies how to present on stage with some great suggestions. In addition to excellent points on structure and the importance of practice, he suggests entrepreneurs join Toastmasters or take an acting class to become more comfortable in front of an audience.
2. 10/20/30: Guy Kawasaki wrote the 10/20/30 rule where presenters create a PowerPoint of no more than ten slides, in a 20 minute time frame, with a minimum font size of 30. While Kawasaki's rules are meant for VC presentations, the fact that each slide has a purpose and covers only key points can carry over to larger presentations.
3. How to Present While People are Twittering: Presentation trainer Olivia Mitchell has a great guest post on Laura Fitton's Pistachio blog where she teaches presenters to incorporate Twitter and feedback loops into their presentations. Although this adds a layer of complication to the presentation experience, it does have the advantage of offering cues to the speaker in addition to creating a long tail of social media pointing back to your words. You can download Mitchell's book entitled, "How to present with Twitter (and other backchannels)" here.
4. Uncovering Steve Jobs' Presentation Secrets: BusinessWeek columnist Carmine Gallo wrote a great article dissecting Steve Jobs' MacBook Air presentation. What I find interesting about this advice is the fact that Gallo points out that part of the Apple narrative requires a binary opposition or an "us versus them" scenario. Gallo writes "in every classic story, the hero fights the villain." If you as a startup founder can position yourself as fixing an industry evil or vanquishing a lackluster market leader, then you're more likely to have a compelling story.
5. The Lessig Method: Upon first arriving in San Francisco I had the pleasure of seeing lawyer and activist Lawrence Lessig speak on copyright and remix culture. In echoing David Hornik's post, we cannot agree more with the statement that Lessig's presentations are a "fantastic combination of content, art and brand." The former Stanford professor weaves a narrative of higher purpose while his staccato imagery injects a freshness into what is often considered dry subject matter. Presentation Zen offers a great breakdown of the many methods inspired by Dr. Lessig's style.
6. Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces: This may seem like an abstract resource, but reading about archetypes is a great way to learn the components of a great story. It is well-documented that George Lucas' Star Wars was heaving influenced by Campbell's work. Luke Skywalker went on an epic journey, was mentored by Obi Wan, overcame Darth Vader and returned with control of the force. Which of your mentors is your Obi Wan? What is your greatest obstacle? And what is the skill or lesson you've learned in starting this company?