The latest in our series of expert guest posters comes from Roger Kethcart. Roger is an entertainment writer by trade, but his intellectual curiosity knows no bounds. His interest in rhetoric and public speaking started in college when he took Latin and was introduced to Cicero, the Roman philosopher, who though dead, added life to Roger. You can find Roger writing over at Cable.tv most days.
Whether you’re pitching an idea to a handful of investors or explaining a topic to thousands, presenting an idea to a group of people can be daunting. Presentation rookies and veterans alike face similar challenges, ranging from butterflies in the stomach to building credibility.
While there are many books, videos, and other resources readily available to specifically address these challenges, some of the best advice comes from an unlikely, unexpected source: TV. Here are a few common presentation tips to help you in your next endeavor, best illustrated with TV show examples.
Look the Part
Before you’ll be able to convince anyone that your ideas are legitimate, you must first build trust with your audience and convince them that you have the credibility to discuss the topic at hand. That credibility-building begins the moment your audience is able to physically see you, which is usually the moment you enter the room or stage.
Dress like a clown while presenting on nuclear thermal rockets and you’ll lose your audience. Dress in a suit while presenting to corporate executives and you’ll have them at “hello”.
Looking the part certainly helped the SurfSet Fitness team land a deal with investor Mark Cuban on the show Shark Tank. The couple, who pitched a new fitness regimen based off of surfing, came into the room dressed in surfer shorts and fitness gear, sunglasses and sandals. They looked like fitness and surfing experts and, as a result, broke any credibility barriers the investors had.
Visual Aids Help
Words alone can’t always say it all. By giving your audiences’ ears a break and engaging their other senses, you open up other channels for understanding. Improved understanding equates to improved reception, and a more successful presentation.
A great example of effectively using a visual aid was during the SweepEasy pitch on season two of Shark Tank. Shane Pannell, the inventor of the innovative, multi-function broom, was able to successfully demonstrate his product. His quick and simple visual aid gathered interest from the sharks, resulting in a successful pitch and, ultimately, investment from them.
Another key ingredient to a successful presentation is confidence. Orators though the ages have been able to influence and persuade thousands, simply by the confidence they exude.
There are few who exude more confidence on TV than AMC’s most audacious ad man, Don Draper. In countless episodes of Mad Men, Don’s confidence convinces clients that his advertising ideas are the best and will make them the most money. In this telling example, Don is so sure of himself that he’s willing to insult the client to prove his point. It pays off.
While it is not recommended that you’re rude or offensive to your audience, having unwavering confidence can persuade even the most stubborn, non-receptive individuals. It’s the secret sauce that’s both behind the scenes and directly in front, giving you the ability to face almost any presentation challenge.
TV today is full of shows that can help hone your presentation skills (and what’s better than getting help from the comfort of your couch?). Next time you’re watching Shark Tank, Mad Men, or other presentation-heavy shows like The Apprentice and Fashion Star, pay attention to who’s the most successful in presenting their ideas and who isn’t. They can help you improve your own skills and become an effective speaker with command over any audience.