One of the greatest ways we can learn to improve our skills as a presenter is by watching others who excel and learning from them. Watching their strengths and their weaknesses helps us to develop a style of our own, honing in on what we like and dislike. I have made this a regular piece of my development process and hope that you will to.

Each week I will bring you a Presenter Highlight, this will be a step by step critique of a well-known presenter. It is important to remember that this critique is not meant to be critical of the presenter, rather it is designed to help me and you develop our own voice and style as we journey into the presentation atmosphere.

Here is how I will break down each presentation:
1. The strengths – We will look at what they do well, what was engaging, and what I would consider adapting into my own style.

2. The Weaknesses – This is a chance to acknowledge and learn from the areas of the presentation that were a distraction from the overall presentation. This is a chance for us to see some areas in someone else that we may also fall into and acknowledge and learn from those mistakes.

3. The Takeaway – This has less to do with delivery and more with a snippet of inspiration. In this section we will highlight a key takeaway shared by the presenter. A major thing that I’ve learned in my career is that great presenters are thought leaders, and great leaders are learners which is exactly what this section will help us do.

So, without further ado let’s get started.

One of my favorite presenters is author and speaker Erwin McManus. Erwin is the author of numerous books and a creative to his core. He has a laid-back style that draws in the heart of every audience member. Erwin has found a way to speak the creative language to every person and inspire them to embrace their “Artisan Soul.”

Our critique comes from his TEDx Hong Kong presentation titled “Artisan Soul.”

The Strengths
As Erwin opened the presentation, I was immediately drawn to his excited attitude. He had an infectious smile and vocal pace that made me lean in to listen and take note. Erwin created credibility as he told a story of a TEDx event that he had been at prior. This did not come across as bragging but showed that he was someone worth listening to. He then used this story as a means to break up the room and engage the audience with humor.

Quick Tip: Opening stories don’t have to be directly related to your presentation, sometimes they are simply a vehicle to help you connect with your audience and gain credibility.

As Erwin wrapped up his opening, he shifted from speaking at his audience to interacting with his audience. He did this through a call and response type moment. Asking questions and allowing his audience to raise their hands to engage. This allowed his audience to place themselves in the shoes of several different scenarios he was proposing.

Quick Tip: Use interactive moments as an opportunity to tee up your main ideas. By interacting with your audience in a way that they engage with your content before you ever present it directly, you are drawing them in for the entirety of your presentation.

As Erwin continued into the heart of his presentation his empathy was evident. Using hand motions and vocal tone to draw his audience into his content was powerful. You could tell that he really did believe in what he was saying and that he wasn’t just giving them lip service.

Quick Tip: If you don’t believe it, don’t say it. A fatal flaw a lot of presenters make is trying to fake passion. Don’t. Take the time to design a narrative that draws out your genuine passion.

The Weaknesses
Erwin is a dynamic and engaging speaker. However, his excitement and passion can at times be a distraction to his overall message. In this particular presentation he seemed at times to be a bit scattered even. His fast-paced vocal tone and short quick paces created an environment where it was hard to focus for the entirety of the presentation.

Quick Tip: While movement is important to engaging the entire audience, be sure your body movements are calculated and precise not a means of burning off nervous energy.

There were times throughout the presentation where I found myself disengaging in what was being shared. Even though I loved the content and felt that what he was sharing was valuable, I still found myself drifting. As I took a deeper look at why this was happening, I realized that each time it was during a transition. Erwin was an expert with his content but struggled to make the transitions between thoughts.

Quick Tip: Nail your transitions. Don’t tell yourself that you will just wing them, and it will be fine. I promise, it won’t be. Write them out, practice them ahead of time, and come prepared. Don’t risk losing your audience because of a short lapse in focus.

The Takeaway
The heart of this presentation was the idea that we are all artists. Erwin beautifully portrayed the fact that many of us believe we are not created and not inspired, but instead the reality is quite the contrary. Humans are the only species that is capable of creating the invisible and bringing to life our dreams because inside each one of us is an “Artisan Soul.” The question is, will we tap into it?

If you are interested in developing your presentation skills check out the Presentation Mentor online course. It is a 7-module course that gives an inside look into the proven framework that will not just elevate your skills, but propel you to greatness.

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