Sunday, 20 May 2012

Introducing The Presenter's Handbook

Recently one of our authors Ian Callow was interviewed ahead of the release of the book "The Presenter's Handbook". The interviewer was Mitt Nathwani of Turning Technologies UK.

We’re passionate about well-delivered presentations and this is why we’re so excited about the launch of the Presenter’s Handbook. We caught up with one of the authors, Ian Callow, to find out a little more about the book and what motivated him and fellow author Phillip Adcock to write it.

Where did the idea for the book come from?
I’ve known Phillip as a friend and golf partner for a few years now although we’d never really overlapped in our professional lives. We got talking one day and realised that we were both frustrated by the number of poorly delivered PowerPoint presentations we were seeing out there. With our combined backgrounds we thought we’d have a go at solving that problem!

In your experience how big is the problem?
That’s a tricky question because the problem is often exaggerated. After all, if a presentation is terrible it will stick in our minds. In reality we think around 75-80% of presenters have room for improvement. In the majority of cases they just need minor tweaks.

Okay, tell us a bit more about your backgrounds
I’ve spent over 20 years in the business presentations environment and over that time have trained thousands of delegates within an array of industry sectors including corporate, MOD, police, NHS and education. Phillip has more than 30 years of human behavioural research behind him and helps the retail sector through his company, Shopping Behaviour Xplained. He’s also got experience of publishing, having written and launched his book Supermarket Shoppology last year.

Shoppology and behavioural research? How does this help with good presentation practice?
When we sat down and brainstormed the ways in which people can improve their presentations, everything came into one of 3 camps; psychology, physiology, or self-reflection. When you look at it that way, it matches our backgrounds really neatly. Phillip’s behavioural research is very much grounded in psychology and my experience of presenting and presentations gives me a large base to draw on when helping people self-reflect, for example.

You mentioned the ‘physiology’ of presenting. What exactly do you mean by that?
I literally mean ‘body position and movement’. For example when you present, are you looking at the ground or engaging with the audience? And what about your gestures? Do you look like the PowerPoint file is driving you or are your body movements at one with the content of your presentation?

The Presenter’s Handbook sits alongside a training course. What’s the relationship between the book and the course?
They both deliver the same message and in that sense they’re intertwined in terms of chapter titles and content. One could improve their skills through either method so it comes down to personal choice. The main difference is that the course is completely tailored. We interview the delegates beforehand and, if possible, watch them present before we pull on our experience to build a course that matches their needs.

There are lots of presentation books and courses out there. What’s so good about yours?
That’s a great question. We think we’re the first to pull together the psychology and the physiology and the self-reflection elements of improving one’s presentation skills. We use technology like TurningPoint and iConnect to enhance the course for delegates as well.

If you had to pick one, what single piece of advice would you give to a presenter looking to improve?
It really depends on their needs but if I had to pick, I’d say don’t over complicate your slides. If you can’t express your point in less than 6 words then leave it off. Too often presenters don’t understand the difference between the presentation and the narrative, which results in busy slides and disengaged recipients!

Ian Callow was talking with Mitt Nathwani of Turning Technologies UK
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