Braindump: Presentation kaizen

Posted: - Modified: | braindump, speaking

Kaizen: relentless improvement

When I think of becoming a better presenter, I think of four key areas:

  • Content: the raw material
  • Organization: how you put it together to make sense
  • Presentation: the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic aspects
  • Delivery and interaction: the performance

All four areas can be separately and deliberately practised to help you build your skill.

CONTENT: Writing journal entries, blog posts, and articles is an excellent way to deliberately practice building content. Here are some ideas for finding content worth sharing:

  • Think about what you’ve learned that other people need to know.
  • Read lots of books on a topic. Summarize them and add your own insights.
  • List the top challenges someone might face in a particular area (ex: facilitating meetings) and how to deal with them. Illustrate this with stories.
  • List five to ten unexpected tips on a topic and illustrate them with stories.
  • Come up with a creative metaphor combining two or three very different things. Illustrate.
  • Collect interesting statistics, stories, pictures, and videos.
  • Learn something new. Share it.
  • Take a cliche and change it. Illustrate.
  • Pick a famous person with interesting quotes. Apply to a different field.
  • Blog. Review your archive to find things that people find useful. Revise or summarize in a presentation or blog post.
  • Pick an action you want people to take. Assemble stories and tips to help them change.

ORGANIZATION: A good talk hangs together well. It’s of one piece. It flows. It’s memorable.

  • Read books. Watch other presentations, TV commercials, etc. Look for the framework and sequencing of ideas.
  • Take an existing talk (even by someone else). Restructure it. Find the key message. Cut out all the things that don’t support the key message.
  • Take your raw material. Pick out key elements.
  • Play with finding acronyms and mnemonics.
  • Play with structure: location, alphabet, time, category, hierarchy.

PRESENTATION: There are so many ways to express ideas.

  • Watch other presentations for inspiration. Slideshare and TED have many great examples. Take notes on what you like and don’t like.
  • Develop a visual vocabulary by looking at ads, photography, videos, and so on.
  • Keep an ear open for vivid language and imaginative metaphors.
  • Experiment with different ways to look at an idea. The Back of the Napkin has a great framework (SQVID).
  • Turn blog posts and book reviews into presentations and share them on sites like Slideshare.
  • Listen to and tell stories.
  • Read design books.
  • Look for great data visualizations and ways to make statistics come alive.


  • Watch other presenters. Take notes on what you like and don’t like. Every presentation (even a boring one) is a learning opportunity.
  • Listen to speeches, radio programs, and other examples.
  • Attend webinars to see how they handle the backchannel.
  • Read speaking books.
  • Stop thinking of people as audience. Think of them as participants who can teach you a lot. Experiment with ways to involve them and learn from them.
  • Practise and reflect.
  • Record yourself and review it. Build on your strengths.

See also: <a href=””>Another seven tips for making better presentations</a>

You can comment with Disqus or you can e-mail me at