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Great analogy! I'm sure this'll help speakers to open their talks in more appealing ways.
Well said, Ken! This is a refreshing take on the topic of “primacy and recency”. You describe typical “bookend” slides, and contrast those with ones that instead use a sharper focus on the audience and on action. To some presenters, at first the differences might seem subtle, but they’re crucial. Slides that focus on the audience and on action lend themselves to a more visual treatment, too – instead of what I call a stale “laundry list” on a typical agenda slide. So a great tip I gleaned from a webinar of yours was to show each topic in a “thought bubble” attached to a photo of someone. For other readers, here’s a picture of what I mean: (In that post, the link called “Use questions or issues for structure” also has a table that lists audience-focused topic names to replace agenda items like “Administration” or “Summary”. See what you think.) So again, thanks for clearly expressing how to stand out from the masses – from the 98%! I so agree with you on this.
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That example sounds fascinating. Is there a recording available by any chance?
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What a great idea! Thanks for setting this up, Ken.
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Thanks Kathy, I love that video! If you're interested to see the research paper on which it's based, there's a link to it on my blog:
Thanks Susan, I really like how you’ve illustrated this concept with a concrete example. I’ve a related question: Like you, I believe every talk should have a call to action. Recently I’ve joined Toastmasters though, and I’m preparing my first speech, which is the ice-breaker where you get up and speak about yourself for a few minutes. Being a strictly informational speech, it seems like an anomaly. So I’m considering adding a call to action (“Visit my blog”) to give it more direction. What do you think? As an analogy, if a businessperson was asked to introduce themselves in front of a group, do you think an explicit call to action is necessary (like “Please come and see me in person afterwards”)? I’d appreciate hearing your perspective.
Thanks Susan – these are great ideas. I love your suggestion of working backwards from the call-to-action. That ensures everything is geared towards the goal, rather than meandering along and ending up somewhere else entirely! I also really like that you quote actual examples for each step (in this case for a talk on community leadership). That makes your post very *usable*, not abstract like many other bloggers’ posts. Well said!
Thanks Nick. I’ve found Amy Cuddy’s advice helpful to reduce nerves and de-clutter my mind. (See the video of her talk: .) On your 3rd point, I really like your idea of coming from somewhere else, and perhaps the best place to come from would be the audience’s shoes (metaphorically). Telling a story of a typical situation that people in the audience find themselves in would give proper context and real-life emotion to the rest of your talk. On points 4 and 5 (about moving), John Zimmer recently posted a video along similar lines, which you might find interesting: Nice ideas in this post. I’ll try to put them into practice in my upcoming talks!
Thanks for the idea, Garr. I just started writing a series of tips about going analog -- the 1st one being to use a flipchart, which Brendon Burchard demos so well. To see a video and read about the techniques he uses, see
Patricia's opening line is neat because it asserts that she and the audience already relate in some way. Because audience's are mainly interested in themselves, they'll be intensely curious just how it is that the speaker relates to them! You might also like this short video I found of Patricia suggesting 5 other strong opening lines:
Thanks Susan – I love your tip of using universal, internal qualities to make a connection with the audience, rather than just using circumstances or other external details. I hadn’t really thought of stories as a way to arouse curiosity, but I see what you mean. Along those same lines, Patricia Fripp has a video in which she suggests 5 different opening lines that start a story in a powerful and intriguing way. (See the 4½-minute mark of ) For 8 more tips on making people curious, also see my own post at Thanks for the great content here!
Thanks Andrew. Might be best to check the other links too, as #5-#7 are scrambled as well.
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I meant that when you follow the links, both #2 and #3 are "Focusing on what you want from your audience" (for instance), so it gets a bit disorienting!
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Thanks Andrew. These are great points, expressed very succinctly. Points #2 (focus), #3 (evidence) and #6 (story) really resonated with me. (Having just subscribed and downloaded your ebook called The Presentation, I’m intrigued to see it’s in a story form, and am keen to read it!) (I was a bit confused by the articles you link to from this post, though, because the numbering changes in them, so not all of the points are actually covered there. Not sure whether you realise that’s the case?) I’ve written a series of blog posts that relate to Focus, which is represented by the F in what I call the “FiRST framework”. For an overview, please see – and for more depth see I’d be interested to know your thoughts. Thanks so much for your posts, and for freely offering your ebook.
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Is a recording available please, as unfortunately I missed this session? Also, just posted a how-to article that gives your great work a plug (and suggests one improvement). I'd be interested in your thoughts on the technique it suggests:
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In that 5-minute CNN segment, Hans gives us so much insight! I love the way he focuses on the *meaning*, not the data itself. Haven't had a chance to watch the documentary yet, but looking forward to it. Thanks for the tip about using subtitles! (P.S. You might want to update the link in the 2nd-last sentence, which currently points to .)
What a list! Thanks for linking to so many video clips and other resources, too -- helps to see a sample before deciding whether to look for a particular title in a bookshop. Another quick place to start is Ellen Finkelstein's 2-minute video that demos 4 good-looking slide layouts. (See )
Good to see you posting again after a break! You asked "How can you remove the distractions?" To do that, I use an approach called the FiRST framework, and the F in FiRST stands for "Focus attention". A key part of that is to minimse "blur" or noise on each slide. It includes tips like these: • How to reliably tell whether any slide has too much content (by using a check you can do in just a few seconds) • 2 quick ways to round numbers in Excel (so your slides say things like “$1.2 million”, not “$1,182,947”) For an overview, see and for details, see
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Dec 14, 2011