How we present our ideas affects the audience’s reactions. When presented poorly creative ideas get shot down or ignored. In this episode, you’ll learn a five-step process that will lead to effective presentations. The steps apply to simple, informal presentations or high-stakes keynotes. Whatever the context, former actor Jack Hannibal shares how to design and deliver presentations so you can get the results you want.
What You’ll Learn
- How you can design your presentations to get positive responses from your audience
- The five step model to present your creative ideas
- The three most common hurdles in delivering presentations
About Jack Hannibal
A professional actor since childhood and teacher of acting for over 20 years, Jack knows firsthand what it takes to command a room with authenticity and presence. He is also good at showing others how to do the same. Jack is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City where he studied acting under Sanford Meisner. He has performed on and off-Broadway and has appeared in numerous TV programs and commercials. In Los Angeles, he taught acting privately and at UCLA Extension. Jack holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. He lives with his wife in Asheville, NC, where he maintains a private psychotherapy practice and is on the teaching staff at Asheville Insight Meditation.
Jack’s extensive experience as a performer, teacher of acting, psychotherapist, and meditation teacher, makes him a presentation coach second to none. His clients include: Children’s Hospital Foundation, Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Sports West, Fox Big Ten, MGM Studios, Sony Pictures, Sony Electronics, Panasonic Avionics, Parsons Engineering, GemStar TVGuide, Quest Diagnostics, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and The Martin Agency.
The Weekly Challenge
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Transcript for Episode #064: Five Steps for Presenting Ideas with Jack Hannibal
Amy Climer: Welcome to The Deliberate Creative Podcast Episode 64. This podcast is all about teaching you how to lead innovative teams. And a part of leading innovation is sharing your ideas with others and getting them on board. Today, I am interviewing Jack Hannibal. Jack is a former actor, now psychotherapist, who also teaches people how to be better presenters and better speakers. And he is very good at what he does. I know this because I had the privilege to work with Jack recently. A couple of months ago, he coached me on a presentation I was doing and he helped me fine-tune it and really take it to that next level. It made such a difference! I invited Jack on the podcast to share his strategies with you.
Whatever type of work you do, there is likely some point in your career where you will be asked to give a presentation and share your work. Jack’s model will help you make that even better. He is going to share with us a five-step model that he and a colleague developed. Then, he is going to walk you through how to present the ideas when you want the audience to respond and do something. Let’s say you are on a team and you have been working on a project and now it is time to present it to your supervisors or maybe to the entire organization, Jack will explain how to create the presentation, what to consider, and he will share examples to help you take that presentation to the next level and really wow your audience. So here is Jack.
Jack, welcome to the Deliberate Creative Podcast. Thanks for being on the show today.
Jack Hannibal: Thanks, Amy. It is good to be here.
Amy Climer: Today, we are going to talk about how to present your creative ideas when you are looking for either some buy-in or some reaction from the audience. Those of you that are listeners on the show, you know about the Creative Problem Solving Process, where you clarify a challenge you are working on and then you start identifying your ideas, come up with maybe hundreds of ideas. You narrow that down, you take the best ideas, you develop them further. But then at some point you want to implement those ideas, which usually means sharing them with other people, getting buy-in from them, getting them to join you in implementing that idea. Jack is an expert at this. He is going to talk today about how to present those ideas. Jack, I know you are going to talk about this model that you have developed. Before we get into that, can you give a little background about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Jack Hannibal: And what are you doing here? As I began my career, I was a professional actor. I moved right into New York City after high school and I trained at the Neighborhood Playhouse. I was part of a theater company for about 10 years. Then, I worked off Broadway and on Broadway. I went back to college after all of that and studied creative writing and literature. And then I moved to Los Angeles and started acting in television. I was on CSI, The Drew Carey Show, Felicity, Without a Trace. There were a bunch of them, I cannot even remember.
When I had gone back to college, I started teaching acting. And when I was in Los Angeles, I taught privately and I taught at UCLA in their extension program. What started happening in that UCLA program is I started getting a lot of business people who were not interested in acting per se, professionally, but they wanted the skills because they were presenting. I tried to doctor what I was doing to accommodate them. And it so happened that one of my students who went through my program at UCLA and then studied with me for about two years was this guy Tim Field. Tim is my colleague in this.
He is a neuropsychologist and had been an executive coach for many, many years, and his focus was on brain function peak performance. We started talking and we basically put this together. It was right at the time. Tim was working at Twentieth Century Fox doing some coaching. They were starting a high potential program and they asked Tim for a presentation program so we rolled this out to them. And that is really how it all started and we have been doing it for about 10 years and the rest is history.
The Five Step Model to Present Your Creative Ideas [04:57]
Amy Climer: And in that process, you developed a model to help people figure out how to share these ideas and how to do that effectively, how to present them. Can you give an overview of that model?
Jack Hannibal: Sure. It is fairly common now. I am actor. I have a background in acting, teaching and creating writing and Tim is this brain scientist. This is fairly common now — this partnership — in this industry, but when we were doing it, we were the beginners. We sort of started this out. The model is this. It is a five-step model and it is a step by step model. Meaning, you want to do the first step first, the second step second, third, fourth and fifth, in that order. And how we created this was basically by fighting each other tooth and nail for weeks on end.
The first two steps are critical.
- The first step is knowing your objective. And that is what is it that you want your audience to do as a result of your presentation? And that seems obvious, it is kind of a no-brainer, but you would be surprised even really seasoned presenters will say things like — I will say, “Why are you presenting?” And it is like, “Well, I want my audience to understand blah, blah, blah,” or, “I am there to educate them about blah, blah, blah,” or, “I want to sell them blah, blah, blah.” Well, no, actually. You may do those things, but those are all about you, the presenter. The objective is what is the audience going to do? I need them to, as you said, buy my idea. I want them to partner with us in this. I want them to buy this idea. I want them to give me money for blah, blah, blah. Something that they have to do.
- The second step then is knowing your audience and it is about why should they want to do that. This is now about building your presentation from the point of view of the audience and why what you are asking them to do is of benefit to them.
- The third step is presence. This is all about you as the presenter and what it is that you communicate really long before you open your month; how is it that by the way you dress, carry yourself, speak and use your body.
- The forth is the model. That is really the physical construction of the presentation; the opening, the body and the close. What goes in each part, but also more importantly or as important is what are you trying to affect with the audience in each part of that.
- Then lastly is what we call hurdles; what do you do when things go wrong. So that is the overview.
Amy Climer: Let’s go through and breakdown each of those steps, starting, of course, with the foundation, step one. Talk a little more about that.
Step 1: Knowing Your Objective [07:51]
Jack Hannibal: You need to be clear about what it is you are asking the audience to do. I have come to believe — and I have no scientific data to back this up — but I think that we are actually psychologically wired to not be clear about what our objective is. Because if I ask an audience to do something, buy something, partner with me, whatever, and they do not do it, then I have to feel the agony of defeat at the end of that presentation. Whereas, if I just go in and I blab at them in a general way, if I educate them, if I help them understand, if I share my idea and they do not take action on it, then it felt like a lame presentation, but I do not really suffer because I did not really have anything at stake.
Amy Climer: It is like the ego, protecting ourselves.
Jack Hannibal: Totally. And we just do it in our sleep. We think we are clear and we are not. Organizations tend to build this kind of vagueness into their culture of presenting. This is one thing that I will say as well is wherever possible, you want as many people to do this kind of training as possible because you want to create a culture whereby people are talking the same vocabulary about what a presentation is and they are on the same page about it.
Most companies, everybody sort of presents, like they sort of think you should know, it is kind of this assumption, and then usually there is somebody in the organization who is like the self-designated presentation expert and that person goes around and says you are saying “um” too much and use your body language like this. And it does not really help anybody, but it sort of becomes this habitual way of doing things. And by actually instituting a program or a technique, you start to break that apart and actually help people become more effective. Once you are clear about what it is you want your audience to do, now you have to make the case for why they should want to do that.
Amy Climer: So that is step two.
Jack Hannibal: Correct.
Amy Climer: Before we go into that, I am wondering, what would be one thing someone could do if they are trying to figure out their objective? Is it just a matter of asking themselves that question or is there…?
Jack Hannibal: Yeah, you can do it that way. I also suggest working with a partner and that person needs to police you and keep saying, “That is not an objective, what do you want the audience to do?” I model this in the workshop. I will work with people who have brought in their presentation and I will say, “What is your objective? What do you want your audience to do?” And you will be amazed at how dogged people are to make it about what they want to achieve and it is not. It is what they are going to do. It is high conflict, actually, when I am doing that with somebody, but it is a lot of fun. And that is really important that you have got a drive to be clear, but you really want to do it with the spirit of, “I am in this with you, I have got your back and we are going to get this.” But be relentless, ruthless.
Amy Climer: As the partner.
Jack Hannibal: Yes.
Amy Climer: All right, so that is number one, so step two.
Step 2: Knowing Your Audience [11:10]
Jack Hannibal: So then you go to make the argument, why should they want to do this now? This is about basically what I say is every idea that you introduce in your presentation you have to link it to a benefit to your audience and you want to take all vagueness out. If your audience has to figure out why or how what you are talking about is of interest to them, they are not going to do that. Everyone is distracted, everyone has 100 fires to put out. They are not thinking about you or your presentation so you need to really take all of the air out of it. And that is what you are doing. It is a one-to-one correlation. Every idea links to a benefit or it does not go into the presentation.
The second aspect of that is you are not telling your story, you are telling your audience’s story. Step two is really about building your presentation from your audience’s point of view. They are the hero in this narrative. They are the ones who are in a situation that they need a solution to and you are there to be their guide. You are going to help them get to that solution. If you can really get this that it is their story you are telling, not yours, it takes the burden off of you. It helps you be less self-conscious. But what it means also is that you really do the work to understand your audience as deeply as possible. Can I tell you a quick story?
Amy Climer: Yeah, please.
Jack Hannibal: There is an article, it was in, I think, Forbes or Fortune, right around the time of the economic collapse. There was a guy, he was in his mid 50s. He was upper management at like Cisco, really big company, and he got laid off. He sent out a blast email to all of his contacts saying, “Hey, I’m looking for work.” Long story short, he gets brought in to a company. This guy is really senior so he is not just meeting human resources, he is coming in and the whole crew is there to interview him. Now, everybody listening to this podcast I am going to bet has been on a job interview and they know the drill. Somebody is sitting behind a desk and they have got your résumé and they are asking you questions about all of these that you have done in the past. Basically, things that they cannot really vet and you are there lying through your teeth. You are a team player, you are really humble, you love to give other people the spotlight.
It starts with the same thing, somebody asks him a question, he says, “Look, I am happy to answer any question you have about my résumé but I thought a more better use of our time would be if I told you what I think I could do for you guys if you brought me on board.” They are like, “Okay.” So he opens his laptop, flips it around and he has created a whole PowerPoint. He has researched this company and how they have performed over the last 20 years and he basically tells them that story. And then he tells them, “This is where you guys are right now and these are three key areas that I have identified of where you need strategic growth. And if you brought me in here, this is what I would suggest that we do here, A, B and C.”
Now, if you think, put yourself in the position of somebody behind that desk, who are you going to hire? Somebody who can come in and talk about themselves really well or somebody who can come in and knows you better than you know yourself, knows your organization? That is step two.
Amy Climer: Nice. And I am guessing he got hired.
Jack Hannibal: Of course, he did.
Amy Climer: Just checking.
Jack Hannibal: “And then they didn’t hire me!” He was furious. [laughter]
Amy Climer: That is a great story of even something — and I love it because it is like you can take this model and apply it to something like a job interview where we do not necessarily think of ourselves as presenters, unless that occasional interview where asked, “Please prepare a one hour presentation.” But it is a presentation, just that conversation.
Jack Hannibal: Yeah. I am glad you brought that up because — and we built it this way — this model can serve you in any kind of communication. We talk about really big sort of formal presentations and in our training we have people up in front of the room and we are video taping you. We make it purposefully as stressful as possible. That is the most stress. And you are not allowed to use any visual aids. There is no deck use because now it is all on you. But the truth is, just like you said, people are presenting all of the time. What will happen some times, we did this with one company and the guy who put his team through this was so excited, he came back. We helped him with one really big pitch that they were doing. And then he had us help them institute this in a way so that in order to keep this model alive. They got so drilled down on this that they use this model now in all of their email communications to each other.
Think about it. Think of those emails you get that are a page long where somebody is just giving you all of this information that you do not need. Whereas, think if you open an email and it said two lines of situation, one line of what I need from you to do and two more lines of why we need to do that. Hello! So even if you are just grabbing a couple of colleagues, an informal meeting in the hall, if you really quickly run through this model what do I need them to do, why do they want to do it, all of a sudden, that meeting becomes much more productive. It is really for any kind of communication.
Amy Climer: This is so great. I am thinking about clients and colleagues I have worked with in the past who have sent out those page-long emails and they are so frustrated like, “Nobody reads my emails. I spend so much time crafting them and then no one reads them.” When even just the way that complaint is phrased it is all about them, as opposed to like, “Well, what do you think that person needs to receive from you in order to do what you want them to do?”
Jack Hannibal: That is right, absolutely. Thinking about them and how they need to hear it.
Amy Climer: All right, so number one is…
Jack Hannibal: Know your objective.
Amy Climer: Number two?
Jack Hannibal: Know your audience.
Amy Climer: Then what? What is the third stage?
Step 3: Presence [17:19]
Jack Hannibal: Three is presence. This is really about you. This is about you as a presenter. Here is something that I want to talk about. People understand this in a vague way, like what is it that you are communicating by the way that you stand, by the way that you use your body, all of that stuff. But in traditional presentation training, presence and content are taught as two separate things. Presence is: so here is your content, let’s figure out this essay, basically, that you are writing and then let’s talk about you in the physical space. This is how to use your hands, how not to say um, how to make eye contact, present with energy, enthusiasm, blah, blah, blah. All of that stuff is important, but when you talk about it out of context with the content, you are just creating a kind of robotic disconnected presenter. And an audience smells that in two seconds flat and they will check out on you.
Amy Climer: I think it also creates anxiety from the presenter.
Jack Hannibal: Here is another thing that comes right out of acting training. This is worth a whole podcast if people can get this. Human beings never move for no reason.
Amy Climer: Interesting.
Jack Hannibal: Think about that. You are always some place doing something and then you are always moving some place to do something else. You are moving with intention. Amy, you and I are having this conversation, let’s say we are not recording this, and somebody pokes their head in and says, “Jack, can I see you for a second?” I say, “Amy, excuse me,” and I start to move across the room. And then you have a thought and you say, “Jack, hang on a second,” then you ask me a question. I am now physically standing in an empty space. I am in between where I am going and I am in between where I have been. But you have asked me a question and I stand there and you and I have this back and forth conversation. My body does not start doing weird things the way that it does when you present. My arms do not start floating out. I do not start getting hot palpitations. Why? Because I am oriented in space, meaning that I am coming from someplace where I knew what I was doing and I am going someplace.
The trick is, that is not going on when you present. When you present, typically — again, I am speaking about you are standing in front of a room giving a formal — you are in a vacuum so your body is disconnected. It does not know what to do with itself and so your words start floating away, sounding disembodied and your body starts doing really weird things. There are two solutions to this; one is the structure that I am talking about. When you create an objective in the presentation, I am now active in my presentation. I am not just up there talking about sharing ideas or educating, I am actually working to get you somewhere. And because I am trying to get you somewhere to do something, I am going to be watching you like a hawk. I am going to be engaged. Now all of a sudden, those characteristics that we want in strong presence they are being elicited by what I am doing by my trying to get you somewhere.
If I am really concentrated on you, on my audience, my body knows what to do. And if I am really talking and I am connected with you, I am watching you to see if my ideas are floating, what do I need to say about this point, have they already got it, can I jump to the next thing? My body is going to know exactly what to do, the audience is not going to sit there and count my ums. They do not care what you do. I swear to God you could lay down on the floor and as long as you are talking and connected with them, they are going to roll. It is going to make sense. You just lay down. They will go with it. I just cannot stress that enough.
All of this I say, again, within the context of presenting in front of an audience is a highly stressful event. Two other things about that. One is, what I like to tell people is, a presentation is a live event. You can prepare for it, but you cannot control it. Steve Jobs famously worked his tail off on those great [Apple] product roll outs that he did to come across he is relaxed, he is informed, he is talking, he is prowling the stage, great. He knows exactly what he is doing, but at the same time, anything can happen. Like when the slide did not come up and the internet was not connected he just knew where he was and rolled with it. You can prepare, but you cannot control.
Difference Between Stage Fright and Nervousness [22:19]
In the presence section is also where we really talk about stage fright and managing stage fright. The truth is what most people call stage fright is not stage fright. Stage fright is debilitating. Laurence Olivier used to throw up before he performed. Henry Fonda used to do the same thing. The actor and singer Mandy Patinkin from Homeland, he is this gorgeous singer. He was giving a concert and he had stage fright so bad he literally walked off in the middle of it and he did not perform for years thereafter. That is stage fright.
Most people what they really experience is nervousness. I will not go too far into this. This is really where Tim comes in with a lot of the brain science and the amygdala. This is all over the internet now. People kind of know this stuff. The way that we treat it, though, is twofold. One is with cognitive behavioral psychology, really where you are learning to think about your thinking. A tiger chases a zebra on the Sahara and the zebra goes into fight or flight because it is life or death. It is full of energy and it is running its head off. It runs, it runs, it runs, lucky day for the zebra, the tiger tires and peels off. Thirty seconds later, that zebra is chewing grass, completely forgotten about the tiger. The whole nervous system has calmed down. What happens to us as human beings is we ruminate and that keeps the system at a heightened level of alert, to the point where it can become debilitating.
Amy Climer: And sometimes we ruminate for days, weeks, months, years.
Jack Hannibal: Oh yeah. The moment somebody says, “I need you to give a presentation in two weeks,” you go, “Oh my God.”
Amy Climer: That one time in third grade…
Jack Hannibal: Yeah. The two techniques that we teach are these: cognitive behavioral approach where you are really thinking about your thinking, how are you labeling this event, is that accurate? On a scale of one to ten, a ten being death, chances are you are kind of up at the seven or eight, like I am going to die if this does not go well. The truth is, it is really in reality probably a three or a four. You are going to feel bad and your boss is going to yell at you, maybe, but that is the extent of it. You can literally learn to de-condition the mind.
And then the second element of this that I teach is mindfulness meditation. Where, again, this is a time where you are setting aside to turn your attention inward and you start to attune yourself to the insanity of your mind and how the mind feeds the emotions. And by watching that over and over, learning how to breathe through it and disconnect from it, you learn to become increasingly less reactive. And that is really the ultimate goal. But neither of these techniques are something that you can just learn in a one day workshop. We can give you the foundation for them, but then, especially like with the meditation, this is something you need to practice on and on and on.
Amy Climer: That makes a lot of sense. Most things are probably like that, where you need to practice it to really play it well.
Jack Hannibal: Yeah. We always joke like you cannot be walking up to the podium and being like, “Okay, breathe, breathe, breathe.” It is like good luck.
Amy Climer: Yeah, it is a little late.
Jack Hannibal: Yeah, it is a little late.
Amy Climer: So that is a bit about presence. What is the fourth stage?
Step 4: The Model/Method [25:55]
Jack Hannibal: The fourth step is the method. Now you have got the bones, you have got the objective, you know your audience’s story, now this is where you are going to put them all together. You want a clear, concise, logical opening, body, middle, close. And you want to, to the extent that you can, is talking a visual story. This is really difficult often for people to understand, but one of the reasons why most presentations are so deadly is that people are speaking in almost total abstraction. You are talking about numbers, you are talking about things that cannot be seen and that carry no emotional weight to them. Your audience, literally, as a human organism, we zone out.
This is where, again, a lot of training gets this wrong. “This is where you need to throw out questions and you need to speak with enthusiasm.” No. If you are boring, you are boring. What you need to do is frame a story that is a dramatic narrative. So again, what I always advocate is tell your audience their story. This is where you guys are. They are the hero in this journey. They are heroes in a situation. These are your competitors and this is what they are doing. Or this is the problem that you tasked us with. So now there is a dramatic set up. There is the hero, there is a danger and we are trying to get them somewhere. I will say more about storytelling in a second but let me back up.
The Opening [27:36]
The opening of a presentation; one thing that you need to do is what we call turn individuals into an audience. Everybody who comes in your presentation is thinking about something else. Again, they have got 100 fires on their phone to deal with, they are not thinking about you. Everyone is in their own little movie and you need to get them out of that movie into a collective movie where you are the focal point. Now that is about grabbing attention. So again, this is traditional to any kind of presentation training where they say you have got to grab attention. They tell you that and there are ways of doing that, but they do not really tell you why. And the why is because you want a collective mind from the audience.
And then really quickly you want to get in to tell them what it is that you want them to do. This is, again, people will fight you on this because you think they know why they are there, they know I want them to buy this thing, say it. Because when you say it, you create a dramatic tension in the room. Remember, a presentation is a live event. Something needs to happen in that room. It cannot just be about the work, it cannot be about their business, it has to be no, this is happening between you and I. Either, I am winning and we all win together, or I am losing and you guys do not change. You have to cultivate that capacity to be in that fire with your audience.
You tell them what you are asking them to do and then give them the benefits for why they are going to want to do it and then you get into the story. There are all kinds of ways that you can do that. You can start with the story and then get into what you are asking them and the benefits and all that stuff.
Amy Climer: This is making me think about a particular client that I worked with a while ago. This team had come up with some ideas that they wanted to present back to their organization and there was a lot of resistance. Now that I am looking at this I am thinking that is because we and they did not look at where is the organization at now? How could this new idea help push it forward? Instead it was more like oh, this is what we have to do because we think so.
Jack Hannibal: I will give you a real world example of how all of this now goes together. I am working with a company and these are very junior people who are being given an opportunity to pitch to senior management. This is a massive entertainment company. This is a high potential program. This was not at Fox, but it is a high potential program so these people are being groomed for leadership. And part of what goes on in these presentations is senior management hazes them because they want to see who can take it.
I have got this young guy and he is like a lawyer and he is in the accounting department and in the beginning of the day I am saying, “So what is your presentation? Why are you here? What do you want?” And he starts talking about money flows and banks and offshore accounts and all of this stuff. I am lost in two seconds and I am thinking this kid is going to get slaughtered. I keep pushing on him, so I start with the model, “So what is it that you want? What is going on?” And he cannot answer anything. And I finally said, “Okay, what is the situation here?” So again, I am modeling this for people in the workshop like, “I am on you. I know a story when I see it, I know a clear presentation when I see it, you are not sitting down until we get there.” So you go through hell and back but again, it is a lot of fun and everybody is there with you.
Anyway, the kid finally says, “We got sued for $80 million last year.” I was like, “What?” He is like, “Yeah, so we are doing a movie with this really big movie star and his production company. And the way things work is we are running the show so we have all of these vendors all over the world that we are working with and his production company wanted periodic audits of where their money was going. And our accounting system was so antiquated that we were so slow in getting them the numbers that they eventually thought that we were scheming. That we were doing it deliberately to hide money. In order to get us to produce the numbers, they sued us for $80 million and we settled for $30 million.” And I was like, “And what are you presenting?” He is like, “The bottom line is, if I can get half a million dollars, I can put an accounting software system in and that will never happen again.”
Amy Climer: That is a great story right there.
Jack Hannibal: I was like, “Dude, that is your presentation.” And I get chills because he did it and he got it. Opening line; so here he is in front of all of these people, first line, this peon, this nobody in this country, “We got sued for $80 million.” One thing that gets the attention of senior management is money and lawsuits. So woom! They are locked in. And he basically told them their story. “You guys are so entrenched in this way of doing things that it really cost us. And what I am here to ask you for is half a million dollars, this software system it will never happen again. My name is…” And he told them his name and said, “Thank you very much,” and walked off. That kid got it.
So that is the whole thing; grabbed their attention, told them the story. He actually did say upfront, “I am asking for half a million dollars for an accounting software system,” and he did walk them through part of it. He followed this model and he created a live event between himself and this audience. He deliberately put them on the, “Say what?” On the defensive, ears pricked, I am asking you for something that you probably do not want to do, but framed it in a way that they could hear it and did it.
Amy Climer: And at the same time listening to the story it is like, “Well, of course, we are going to do this.”
Jack Hannibal: Of course, that is right.
Amy Climer: And I guess that would be the ultimate goal is any presentation at the end the audience is like, “Sight me up. How do I start?”
Jack Hannibal: That is right. And that is the gift. If you can get more than just yourself using this model, then you can build presentations together and you can really help each other cut the fat out of a presentation by learning to do this, really just learning to ask the right questions and pushing until it is clear and making sure that every feature is linked to a benefit and every contingency is thought of. There is always going to be that person that is going to say, “Yeah, but…” We thought about that.
Amy Climer: And that is the last step, right? Is figuring out hurdles and how to…
The Body [34:37]
Jack Hannibal: No, actually. I am sorry I really went over here. I really just started on the opening; grab their attention, turn individuals into one audience, tell them the objective and the benefits. Then you are into the body and this is where you are going to do the most of the talking. This is where you are going to typically lose the audience you have because you are talking so much. So anywhere you can turn this out and rather than give a presentation, have a conversation. You can think about it as I am doing all the talking in the conversation or you can be really lawyerly about it, where you ask the audience questions that you already know the answers to. This can come across as pedantic, like they know you are asking stupid questions. You are asking very real questions and they are giving you really hard answers and then you are using those answers to drive the conversation. That really keeps your audience engaged.
The Close [35:29]
And then the last part of the method is the close. Typically, when we close is we restate our objective and the benefits and then we go to Q&A and that is what we end with. Well, we invert it. What I want you to do is as you are coming out of your presentation, I want you, if it is a long presentation where you have got multiple presenters, best if they take questions throughout the presentation because nobody is going to remember them at the end. But if you do and you get to the end, what I want you to do is then ask for Q&A, stand there for as long as it takes, keep the answer short, keep them moving. Typically, when you stop talking and you turn it over to the room for questions, there is going to be a lull. So as soon somebody asks a question, you answer it and then ask for the next question. Keep the energy moving and then cut it off and say, “Okay, that is all the time we have.”
And you want to end really strongly. Just as you did in the beginning where you grab this audience and you turn these individuals into an audience, now you are going to release this audience into being individuals. You have seen presentations where people are just sort of like, “Okay, that’s it,” and they sort of slink off, don’t. “Thank you very much. You have got my information. I will be here for a few minutes afterwards if anybody wants to talk to me. Otherwise, I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you very much.” And then you are out.
I am talking so much.
Amy Climer: That is the whole point.
Jack Hannibal: Is it? Okay. I’m like jeez.
Amy Climer: It is all good.
Step 5: Hurdles [37:07]
Jack Hannibal: Step five is hurdles; what do you do when things go wrong. This happens in basically three areas. There is something goes wrong technically — we have all had a computer go down. I remember going to do one of our workshops and the woman was like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, we have got this great overhead projector,” and we got to the room and there were literally cables hanging out of the ceiling. What do you do? So the bottom line is, it is either technical, it is personal — something is going on with you — or it is challenges that come from the audience.
On the technical end, you just have to be able to do your presentation without anything, without your deck. You got to know your content well enough. It is okay to look at notes. I have a whole thing about how to use notes, which I will not go into because — very briefly — notes are an obstacle to contact. Every time you look down, you are losing contact with your audience. And if when you are talking to your audience, they can see you thinking about what it is that you say next, not good. But anyway, there are technical ways around that. Bottom line, do your presentation as if you are without anything. Personal stuff – that is really about stage fright and managing that.
And then the third is about questions that come from the audience. What I say to you is as you are building your presentation, create a little parking lot and as you are building each section and you go, “Oh boy, I really hope they don’t ask me this,” write it down and then figure out what it is that you are going to say because after a certain point, “Great question. Let me get back to you about that,” only gets you so far. Much better if you can really handle it on the fly and give that person a really good answer.
Amy Climer: That makes a lot of sense. Great, so those are the main hurdles that you might come across.
Jack Hannibal: Pretty much, yeah.
Amy Climer: Awesome! This is really helpful, Jack. Five steps. Follow these steps you are going to have amazing presentations.
Jack Hannibal: Yes, you will be successful from here on out.
Amy Climer: Can you just talk a little bit about — and you kind of touched on this already, but in thinking about a team, a small group of people that has some new ideas they want to present to the audience or to — like to use your example — upper level management and you want to present these ideas, any other kind of final thoughts for them, especially when it is a idea that it is a bit creative, meaning it might be a little bit out there, it might be pretty different, anything about that?
Jack Hannibal: What I say to people is be loud and be wrong. Organizations, like people, do not really want to change. They say they do, they talk about it, they put it all over the walls, but when it comes down to doing it, they will fight it. If you go in there presenting like, “I hope they like this.” No, do not do that. I want you to present like you are swinging a sledge hammer. And again, this model will help you do that. If you get really clear and you tell a really great story and it is loaded with benefits, you make it impossible for them not to do it.
You have to understand, too, if you are doing this within the context of an organization, when you start presenting differently than the way people typically present, you are going to stand out. Some people might really like it and give you the thumbs up and say, “Hey, that was really cool. I don’t know what you guys did but I liked it,” and other people, including senior management, may not like it. You’ve got to be ready for that. And again, you always have to use your judgment. I do not want anybody getting fired and saying, “This guy told me.” You got to respect your audience, but at the same time, go big. Like I said, be loud and be wrong, but be really clear and definite. Have a point of view.
Amy Climer: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that “be wrong” piece is part of creativity. It is part of innovation. There is a risk to it. Anytime you are trying something new, it might not work and that is kind of part of how it works.
Jack Hannibal: And it is on the road to you being an expert. I used to have students who would come up to me before class and they would say, “Hey, I know you said to do this, but I thought about it and I was doing… can I…? I wanted to do…” I am like, “Dude, I don’t care what you do, show me. I want you to show me what it is I am talking about.”
Amy Climer: And show me what you are talking about
Jack Hannibal: What you are talking about. You own it. You are the expert in the room so come in here guns blazing.
The Weekly Challenge [41:58]
Amy Climer: One of the things that I like to do at the end of every podcast is give listeners something that they can do this week to start applying what they heard, the weekly challenge. What would you give listeners?
Jack Hannibal: I have two levels to this; this is the black belt challenge. If you are somebody who does not get the opportunity at work to present a lot, I want you to find it, whether it is sign up for an improv class, sign up for an acting class, do Toastmasters, or do like an open mic, just get up and tell some story. I want you to find a way, I want you to cultivate the capacity to put yourself in that really awful, uncomfortable position. I want you to do it so often that you get comfortable at it and you get good at it.
Amy Climer: I am just thinking about a friend of mine who is now a professional speaker and she started out only a few years ago. She decided she was going to present as many times as she could in that year and one of the places she went a lot was the public library.
Jack Hannibal: That is great.
Amy Climer: She would set up just these presentations open to the public on the topic that she was an expert in. Sometimes she would have two, three people, sometimes she would have ten people. She got so much better. It was so cool to watch that trajectory and her change.
Jack Hannibal: So two things to that. You have got to do it a lot, but you have got to do it with thought and technique because it is also possible to do it badly on and on and on.
Amy Climer: And get really good at doing it badly.
Jack Hannibal: Exactly. The second challenge, the less intense challenge — please, do the scarier one first — but the second one is I want you just to start paying attention to people telling stories. All the time in workshops people are like, “I’m not a storyteller.” Like dude, we are all storytellers. You married the person you married or you are in the relationship or you got the job. It is all a story. But what I want you to really start to pay attention to is story structure. Why is it when so and so told about what happened when they were watching the Super Bowl on Sunday everybody laughed? How did that person set that up? And really go back to the basics; who was the hero in that story? What did the hero have to overcome in that story?
I want you to notice the relationship between dramatic narrative and exposition. For example, I told that story about the guy from Cisco. Think of how I set that up with a lot of exposition. I gave you time. This is 2008 around the time of the crash. This guy had a big job, he was senior management at Cisco. Fact, fact, fact, fact. I did not tell you where he lived, I did not tell you how big his salary was, I did not tell you if he was married, if he had kids. Why? Because none of that had to do with where I was trying to get you, which was into that room where he turned that laptop. That was the dramatic action. Everything that I said up until that point was about setting up his credibility so that when he did that and they said, “Sure, go ahead,” you as the audience were like, “Okay, something is going to happen because this guy is a real guy. He is accomplished.”
And then he goes in and where does the story go? He tells — so now you are in this unfolding of the dramatic narrative. You want to really tune your ear for that because, again, what typically happens when people present is everything gets equal weight. This is why you end up way in the weeds and you are like, “I never meant to be talking about this and I am doing ten minutes on it.” Go back to the model. It is because you do not know the objective, so therefore, you do not know how much weight to give this thing.
Amy Climer: Great, I love it. That is awesome. And I will put that in the shownotes so people can track those and share comments about if they tried these challenges. They can share what happened.
Jack Hannibal: Cool.
Amy Climer: Jack, if people want to get ahold of you and learn more about this model, where can they go?
Jack Hannibal: Go to my website www.presentationandpresence.com.
Amy Climer: Great and I will put that in the shownotes as well.
Jack Hannibal: Cool.
Amy Climer: Thank you so much for being on the show.
Jack Hannibal: Oh, my pleasure.
Amy Climer: Thank you Jack for being on The Deliberate Creative Podcast. So much great information. If you want to get all the links that Jack mentioned in the episode, you can go to www.climerconsulting.com/064. On the shownotes page, you will find all the links that Jack mentioned, you will also find links to 63 other episodes from The Deliberate Creative Podcast, as well as some blog posts that I have written. If you are interested in leading innovation in teams or being more creative yourself, you will find a number of resources on the website. And if you like this website, be sure to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Google Play. You can also follow me on Twitter @amyclimer and you can like my page on Facebook at Climer Consulting. I share links to more resources, articles, events that I am doing, I share those on social media.
The purpose of this podcast is to teach you how to lead innovation in your team. When you go to the website, if you do not see something that you are looking for, send me an email. Let me know. I love hearing from you, I love special requests from listeners and I want to know what you are learning. What are you looking for? What are you learning? What are you doing in your team? What are your needs? Feel free to shoot me an email. You can find the link to my email at www.climerconsulting.com. Good luck with your weekly challenge this week. Leave your comments in the shownotes and have a wonderful week everyone. Thank you! Bye!
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