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Presentation Masterclass – Part 1: Introduction

Presentation Masterclass – Part 1: Introduction

I have been observing, delivering and training people in presentation techniques for over 20 years now and my considered, professional, opinion on the subject is this:

MOST PRESENTATIONS SUUUUUUUUCK!

In almost every sphere of human endeavour, the outcome can be plotted on a bell-curve – a few really skilled people over on the right, a few really hopeless people over on the left and a whole bunch or just-above or just-below average people in the middle:

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    I suspect that the curve for presentations looks more like this:

      Why?

      Seriously. Why?

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      How hard could this be? You get someone who knows what they are talking about standing up in front of a audience, with a bunch of visual aids to make the job of imparting information easier, and they impart the information. How hard could that be?

      I have been involved with presentation at a professional level for over 20 years. If I include my earliest experiences with presentations – people teaching me stuff in primary school – then the figure is closer to 40 years. And the vast majority of them were dreadful. Teachers, coaches, lecturers, tutors, trainers, consultants – most of them suuuuuuuuuuuucked!

      Think back. Put aside all your experiences in the world of work for a moment and just think back to your schooldays. How many exceptional teachers did you have in your 14 years of primary and secondary schooling? I had four excellent teachers in primary school and three in secondary, out of a total about 80 people who taught me various subjects between the ages of 4 and 17. Now, for our normal distribution bell curve, 7 out of 80 is about right, but it still sucks when you have to sit through it. And that’s before I even got to college, much less the world of work with all of its woeful presenters. Why does this happen? By dint of the fact that the person is up at the front of the room with the slides flickering behind him or her, they must be some kind of expert on their topic, whether that topic is the 3Rs in primary school or Web 2.0 marketing. So their expertise in the topic is rarely the problem.

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      I have gradually come to the realisation that the biggest problem with presentations is that human beings are simply too self-involved for the process to work well. Presenters are so wrapped up in themselves and their topic that they rarely seem to take a moment to consider what would be the best method for imparting this information to their audience. Audiences are so deluged with advertising messages and radio jingles, with phone calls, voicemail, email, SMS and IM, with… stuff in their personal lives that unless you, the presenter, are wowing them with every word, you will lose their attention in a matter of seconds.

      Add to that the fact that the bar has been lowered to such an extent that most audiences are resigned to expecting dull, rambling, semi-legible, bullet-point-ridden presentations, and it’s not hard to see how we have arrived at this low ebb in communication.Both sides are at fault, to be sure; but if you are scheduled to make a presentation soon, you can control only one side of the conversation. Exercise that control. You have no say regarding the audience’s mood or willingness to listen, but you control your presentation, and in this series of posts, I will provide you with the knowledge, tools and approach to maximise your chance of success.

      The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated. (William James)

      The psychologist and philosopher William James said, “The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.” If your presentation is going to have any chance of success, it needs to be built on this understanding. As a starting point, I recommend some detox to clear your body and mind from a lifetime of exposure to sucky presentations. I strongly recommend that you expose yourself to some great presenters:

      • Check out Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Jobs, and Dick Hardt on YouTube.
      • Have a look at some of the wizards on TED.com – Rives, Hans Rosling, Barnett Thomas, Lawrence Lessig and Ken Robinson all stand out, but there are reams more on this invaluable resource.
      • Go over to Common Craft and have a look at their ‘plain English’ tutorials on aspects of Web 2.0

      The one common theme that emerges from this tremendous diversity of presenters, topics and styles is RESPECT. By every word and deed, they demonstrate absolute respect for both their audiences and themselves.

      A good starting point. The essential starting point.

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      Next: Planning your presentation.

      More by this author

      Rowan Manahan

      Rowan is a professional trainer with over 20 years’ experience mentoring and consulting with executives at all levels.

      Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context 5 Key Questions When Planning Your Presentation (Presentation Masterclass – Part 2) Presentation Masterclass – Part 1: Introduction Guy Kawasaki’s Thoughts on Online Life Communication 101

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      Last Updated on September 28, 2020

      30 Powerful Success and Failure Quotes That Will Lead You to Success

      30 Powerful Success and Failure Quotes That Will Lead You to Success

      No one can live a positive life without failing. However, many people experience a fear of failure, despite its inevitability in life. Failure, as you will see from these 30 success and failure quotes, is the key ingredient for the recipe of success!

      Today’s society is obsessed with success and achievement, and failure is definitely NOT part of the equation. Failure and making mistakes is hidden away or seen as a human weakness.

      However, if you avoid making mistakes in life, struggle to do everything right, and are obsessed with perfection and order, then living and experiencing a successful and happy life is going to be impossible.

      Embrace your failure, whether it is one failure or many failures, because with the right attitude and a willingness to learn from your mistakes, you are guaranteed a lifetime of success. Here are some uplifting quotes about failure and success to help you get started.

      1. “Never let success get to your head; never let failure get to your heart.” -Anonymous

      This quote is important for those of us who feel downtrodden after every failure, heartbroken, if you will. If you let failure get you down for more than a couple of days, you’re wasting away your chance to bounce back from it.

      On the other hand, if you allow yourself to build an inflated ego after every success, future failures may be even harder to cope with. Maintain a sense of humility and gratitude for each success and failure you find.

      2. “Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie?” -Marilyn Monroe

      Marilyn Monroe is spot on with this one. The first person who should be there to catch you when you fall is you. You have to be your own best advocate, the person to build you up when it feels like everything is going wrong. The others in your support system are just icing on the cake.

      3. “You always pass failure on your way to success.” -Mickey Rooney

      In today’s competitive world, it’s hard to understand that almost no one experiences failure before they experience genuine, lasting success. Failure is what forces you to learn in order to achieve that goal you’ve been working up to.

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      4. “Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” -Chinese proverb

      Everyone falls. Those who refuse to pick themselves back up, no matter if it’s after two days or two years, are the true failures.

      5. “Successful people don’t fear failure but understand that it’s necessary to learn and grow from.” -Robert Kiyosaki

      There are many success and failure quotes on this idea, and that’s because it’s so very important. Learning doesn’t happen when things are easy. It happens when things get tough and you have to find a way through challenges.

      6. “The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” -Barack Obama

      No one can escape failure. If you let it keep you down and shying away from achieving your goals, you’ve failed again. If you learn from it and continue on your path toward greatness, it wasn’t a true failure but a lesson.

      7. “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” -Og Mandion

      Determination is one of the best antidotes to failure. Even if you take two steps forward and one step back, you’re still moving forward with grit and determination. Keep going!

      8. “Fear regret more than failure.” -Taryn Rose

      At the end of your life, what do you think you’ll feel worst about, failing or never trying?

      9. “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” -Nelson Mandela

      If anyone has enough insight to offer us success and failure quotes, it’s Nelson Mandela. He learned that that path to success (and freedom) is full of setbacks. His determination, however, led him to make amazing changes in the world around him. Now that’s success.

      10. “The secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” -Paulo Coelho

      Each time you get back up, it will get easier and easier, and you’ll realize each time that those failures are the greatest lessons life will ever give you.

      11. “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” -Napoleon Hill

      Unfortunately, many people stop trying after a large failure comes their way. They lose their confidence, determination, and will. However, success usually follows quickly behind these huge failures because you’ve inevitably learned what not to do.

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      Don’t stop with the huge failure. Take a few more steps and see if it gets you where you wanted to go.

      12. I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Alva Edison

      Through his success and failure quotes, Thomas Edison shows us that failures are only truly failures if you don’t learn the lesson they offer.

      13. “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” -Bill Gates

      Celebrating success feels good, but learning the lessons of failure is where growth occurs[1], which can lead you to even greater successes.

      14. “The only thing that separates success from failure is one last attempt. Try one more time and you will get lucky.” -Apoorve Dubey

      Every success comes from an attempt. If you don’t try one more time, you’ll never know if it could’ve been your big chance at big success.

      15. “Failure is a detour; not a dead-end street.” -Zig Ziglar

      Many people get impatient with failure. They feel that it’s a stopping point, or a road that’s too long to walk. However, the patience to take that new road is exactly what’s necessary to find success. If success is easy to find, it likely won’t last very long.

      16. “In the real world, very smart people fail, and mediocre people rise. Part of what makes people fail or succeed are skills that have nothing to do with IQ. Also, the idea that intelligence can be gauged by an IQ test is erroneous.” -Camille Paglia

      Failure is not a sign of a lack of intelligence, as Paglia suggests. Failure is a sign of great intelligence and great courage. She also points out the important point that intelligence takes many forms, and it’s often the grit and maturity to accept failure for the temporary setback that it is.

      17. “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” -Oprah Winfrey

      Queens will always be queens, no matter if they experience success or failure. And you will always be you, so use that to your advantage, and take the risk of failure in order to reach success.

      18. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” -J.K. Rowling

      Living a life free of failure generally means you have lived a boring, uneventful life. Is it really worth it?

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      19. “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” -Richard Branson

      If you’ve ever watched a child learn to walk, you know that Branson’s success and failure quotes are true. Children are determined. They fall, and they get back up. And then they learn, and soon they’re running.

      20. “Success or failure is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacity.” -Walter Scott

      Scott knows that intelligence is less of a determining factor in success than determination or ruthless optimism. Set yourself up for success by cultivating both.

      21. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again. That is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

      Michael Jordan knows failure, and yet we know him as an incredibly successful person. Why? Because he never let the failures stop him from moving on.

      22. “There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.” -José N. Harris

      The secrets to success are pretty simple, and living a full life is only possible once you learn that getting up after a failure will bring a great sense of satisfaction and joy.

      23. “All people fail at certain instances in their lives, the only thing that makes them different is how they manage to stand up or how they choose to fail again.” -Unknown

      If you fail, you’re like the vast majority of the world. What makes you different is how you choose to respond.

      24. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” -Robert Kennedy

      If you aim high, even if you fall short you’ll still likely be ahead of the majority of people. Take the time in life to fail greatly because that’s where you’ll find your true self.

      25. “Failure is good as long as it doesn’t become a habit.” -Michael Eisner

      If you continue to make the same mistakes, you’re not learning from your failures. This is when it becomes a destructive habit instead of a moment to propel you toward success.

      26. “If you are afraid of failure, you don’t deserve to be successful.” -Charles Barkley

      Only those who are willing to accept the hard emotions that come along with failure will be those who will enjoy the good feelings of genuine success.

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      27. “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. It is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end street.” -William A. Ward

      In his success and failure quotes, Ward points out something important. Failure is often seen as a death stroke, something that stops our success. If we shift our perspective and look upon failure as a teacher instead, we will likely feel very differently about those moments in our life and see that failure is delay, not death.

      28. “Courage allows the successful woman to fail and learn powerful lessons from the failure. So that in the end, she didn’t fail at all.” -Maya Angelou

      We’ve been here before. Failure is only failure if you don’t learn from it. Let yourself get a bad grade on the test; you’ll study differently next time. Let yourself fail at a relationship; you know how to build a healthier relationship next time.

      Every failure brings a lesson. Learn it and move on.

      29. “Good people are good because they’ve come to wisdom through failure. We get very little wisdom from success, you know.” -William Saroyan

      If you think of the moments you learned and grew the most, were they easy times or hard times? Challenges make us better, smarter people[2]. You don’t get wise through an easy life.

      30. “Don’t fear failure—not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” -Bruce Lee

      If you try to achieve something great, even a failure feels like a success. At least you had the courage to try. That’s more than most can say.

      More Inspirational Quotes

      Featured photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Harvard Business Review: Strategies for Learning from Failure
      [2] Psychology Today: How Greater Challenges Help You Grow

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