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Thinkers50 in 50 Seconds: What is the secret of a great presentation?

We have conducted several 50-second interviews with our thinkers. Here are their collected answers to one specific question: What is the secret of a great presentation?

Whitney Johnson
Whitney Johnson
Connection not perfection.
David Burkus
David Burkus
Give.
Julian Birkinshaw
Julian Birkinshaw
The quality of the speaker is obviously key here – I have seen brilliant speakers captivate their audiences talking about incredibly obvious and mundane things. But beyond the speaker’s basic charisma, the secret of a great presentation is that takes the audience somewhere new and surprising. Remember, most of the audience for a business presentation have seen a lot of these presentations before, so they don’t want another story about Jack Welch or Steve Jobs. I believe they want something different, that forces them to think and reflect in ways they don’t usually do. Of course, it also has to link that new thought back to the “real world” as well.
Enrique Dans
Enrique Dans
Connecting with the audience, challenging them, having them reach the ideas by themselves.
Peter Fisk
Peter Fisk
Leaving people thinking, inspired, and wanting to learn and do more! It takes the right theme, practical content, lots of engagement, and fun.


Alf Rehn
Alf Rehn
A true connection with the audience, a narrative arc, and an element of surprise.
Rachel Botsman
Rachel Botsman
Being totally present with the audience. Yes the stories, timing, delivery, visuals etc are all important but a presentation goes from good to great when all you are thinking about is that connection with your audience. You don’t just know but can feel what you want them to walk away with.
Gianpiero Petriglieri
Gianpiero Petriglieri
Address a question that people care about as much as you do. Speak to people about an issue. Not the other way around.
Dave Ulrich
Dave Ulrich
A great presentation solves problems of others more than telling them what I know. A great presentation is one that someone remembers a week (or at least 24 hours) later.
Vlatka Hlupic
Vlatka Hlupic
Connecting emotionally with the audience.
Lee Newman
Lee Newman
The same as the secret to great music – something dissonant or seemingly “off” has to happen to create tension, that then gets resolved in the rest of the piece.

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