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Some tips to inspire you to improve

Nature or nurture

The young Winston Churchill’s marks in school were terrible. His teacher wrote of him, “He is prone to ill health, has various speech impediments (including a lisp and a stammer), and has an academic record that can at best be described as patchy.”

However, Churchill became one of the greatest orators in history. He was able to move the British people to fight for the freedom of the western world as we know it. This seems to show that nature, the inherent ability to do something well, is not the main factor in succeeding in learning a skill. A lot of children have apparent “god-given skills” (nature) but are not able to nurture these abilities.

Nature without nurture brings no substantial results. Nurture in the form of constant training can often compensate for a lack of inherent ability. It is though, important to recognise that optimum excellent, world class performance is often accompanied by people with natural talents. These are further developed by good training and coaching. Roger Federer, the tennis champion is a good example, as well as Rory McIlroy, the new genius on the golf course.

Some people who are more extrovert and speak a lot when they are younger might be suited to becoming great speakers. However, new research shows that introverts are often excellent teachers and presenters as they have extremely good listening skills.

Small increments

Useful presenters are never really satisfied with their performance.

Now it sounds crazy to say that, given that I have been teaching managers how to present better for over 20 years.

What good presenters, teachers and trainers are really good at is recognising what they need to improve to present to a very high standard. They need to keep going until they have mastered what they have decided to be really good at. Now this takes time. So presenters have to take that time from other less valuable activities.

Good presenters who want to be better need to organise time in their diaries. You learn how to present by taking every opportunity to present to a live audience. Practice is also vital. In general, the more speakers present, the better they get. But there is one proviso. They must get feedback from a competent coach. We often hear trainers say, “practice make perfect.”

This is clearly wrong. “Practice makes permanent.”  If you learn something badly, then performance will clearly suffer. This is why a competent coach or mentor is so important.

No great sportsman goes to a tournament without his coach. Excellent business people, leaders and speakers very often work closely with their specially selected guides/coaches who provide detailed feedback.

Make small incremental improvements

People overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in seven years.

Have you heard of Edward Lorenz? He died on 18th April, 2008 and as the father of chaos theory.

You have probably heard of the sentence, when a butterfly flaps it winds in Shanghai it causes a hurricane in New York. Lorenz proved something extremely important. Small changes will have huge consequences.

Konrad Lorenz was the researcher who calculated the figure 0.506127. This was the start value for every weather forecast. However, Lorenz made an error in his into Lorenz’s calculation. Instead of inputting 0.506127, Konrad Lorenz just used 0.506. That led to a completely different result in the weather forecast.

A small error led to the opposite result

The forecast was for sunny weather but the actual weather was stormy. Lorenz was amazed at the result. Just a tiny error made such a huge difference. How is it that such a small change could make such a large difference?

The conclusion is that small changes have a large effect. Let’s transfer this to our presentations. Make small changes in your presenting skills to create a very big effect. Do this regularly and you will see an exponential improvement in your skills. The following motto is helpful, Doing a little practice often is better than doing a lot of practice very seldom.”


As you no doubt know, Pareto was responsible for the Pareto principle.

The 80-20 principle says that the most value comes out of 20% of our activities. So, focus on the important points of presenting. But what exactly are the most important points?

An evidence-based approach

Most presenting training focusses on the subjective opinion of the trainer who just teaches his participants how he himself presents. That is not scientific. We need an approach which provides an evidence-based approach which clearly shows why one way of presenting is more effective than another. In other words, we need to know what we need to focus on.

What then are the critical success factors of a great talk? 

The three main points are:

  • The presenter herself or himself, how s/he comes across to the audience
  • The content, what s/he presents
  • The delivery, how s/he presents.

The good news is that scientists have found out how good presenters work. The bad news is that scientific studies are written for scientists! They are impossible for non-scientists to understand. Your trainer needs to be able to “translate” the science into normal language so that we, as presenters, can benefit from this professional research.

If s/he can do that you have an ideal opportunity to learn state-of-the-art presenting skills.


Story Time

Do stories have a place in presentations?  Yes! But why?

Stories are a basic human characteristic and are easily memorable. We grow up with stories and often have a positive attitude towards them. They can be used metaphorically illustrate a key message.

Power of Persuasion

Rober Cialdini has done some excellent research on persuasion. One point which Cialdini explains is the “authority principle.”  People are more likely to be persuaded by someone of authority like researcher, a medical doctor or a lawyer.

Ask yourself, which of these would be likely to trust more:

  • Something I just put together this morning or
  • Research which I spent 3 years doing at Oxford University with a professor of linguistics I hope you would prefer the second alternative.


Does the way you design slides matter?  A definite yes, again.  But what is best?

The research shows that a starting slide showing a visual of how something is done plus a key statement, which explains the visual, is the best method to use. This is called the Assertion-Evidence Technique and it can be learned relatively quickly with the right guidance from the coach.

These are the things you really should be learning in your journey to becoming a more effective and impactful speaker. They are practical tips based on up-to-date research.

They will help you to become a much better presenter.

Interessiert Sie das Thema mehr? Dann buchen Sie doch ein Seminar mit John Doorbar!


John Doorbar, Trainer, Coach and Facilitator

Born in England 1961 – John studied at University of Oxford, 1979 – 1982, MA in Theology. From Oxford he went to study „Teaching Theory and Praxis“ at the University of Durham. He set up his consulting practice in Germany after beeing awarded a distinction in Commercial Training Skills sponsored by the University of Cambridge in 1989. Since then he has conducted management seminars in 13 countries worldwide. A large number of well-known international companies like Kraft-Foods, Ernst and Young, Siemens, Allianz and Springer Verlag have become long-term partners. John’s open style allows participants to relax and let go of their fear of making mistakes while presenting. This quality helps learners to learn more effectively and faster. Combined with his effective delivery and fully researched teaching methods these points make him a popular figure in business.

Website: Tel:0173 90 399 49

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