The Power of Presentations

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In a previous post I offered some presentation tips that have served me well over the years. I thought it would be a good time to review some of these points and share additional ones.

Dive in!

I used to give talks that were downright painful. I’d start with introductions, move to a review of objectives, talk about how my presentation would flow, tell you why I was presenting the material and how it would help. Then I’d begin with a series of facts to support my points, or present a theory and discuss all the details around it.  And if 10% of the room was still actually awake at that point I’d be amazed.

You need to connect with your audience immediately or you will not get them back. One of the best ways to do this is to begin “in the middle”. Drop the intros (better yet…have someone else introduce you), and start with a thought provoking question or story.

Storytelling Wins Out

Take note of the video below. How does Dan Heath engage the viewer and explain his main points in such a short period of time? Through the power of story. Stories offer a way for the audience to relate to and emotionally connect with what it is you are trying to say.

Use Imagery (See my “slideshow” post for details)

“You can’t really see the graph, but if you could this is what it would be telling you.”

I cannot tell you how many talks I’ve attended that were riddled with graphs and models that served no purpose.

Use images over text when possible, but be sure they are images people can easily see and understand. Images build interest, connect the audience to your story, and help to create space for change.


Be clear about the purpose of your talk and stay the course. Have a key message that will capture people’s attention, and create the kind of positive change you are envisioning. Structure your talk so that your key points are able to shine through.



  1. Brenda Bomgardner  July 27, 2010

    The toipic of your blog is timely for me as I am preparing to give a presentation on the subject of, “How to Find a Therapist That’s Right for You.” I will offer a second presentation that covers the topic, “How to Get the Most From Your Therapy Hour.” I want to capture the attention of the audience. Now I have just the right ideas to accomplish my goal. Between reading your blog and reading your book, “Marketing for the Mental Health Professional,” I am well on my way to developing a thriving private practice. Thanks for information.

  2. David  July 28, 2010

    Great topics Brenda. I wish you all the best and would love to hear how the talks go.

  3. Elizabeth Doherty Thomas  August 7, 2010

    Such important material to cover. My father has been an amazing mentor to me on this topic. In fact my first workshop was co-presented with him and it did not go well on my end. I wasn’t nearly as energetic as I should have been (for a crowd of about 40.) The conference organizer took a huge risk and my second presentation was to co-present a keynote to 1800 people!

    My father and I went through the presentation line by line, I underlined areas of sentences I need to emphasis, or go up or down with my tone. It was a smashing success with a lot of preparation.

    My normal life are presentations for 65 to about 15 people. I love presenting and hope to do more (beyond helping therapists and marriage educators market themselves) when I actually get my MFT license and can do more workshops in the community.

    Nice to “meet” you via Twitter and I look forward to reading more of your website. 🙂

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