Presentations are Icebergs

If you’ve spent any time on LinkedIn or Twitter, you’ve probably seen a graphic of a facet of business compared to an iceberg. People use icebergs because the majority of an iceberg’s mass is hidden below the surface of the water. This comparison is used when describing subjects like financial advising or even how to network because of the hidden, behind the scene elements that make that skill or product successful. Let me be the first to say that presentations are like icebergs too!

blog_offer_6_fears_guideThe reason presentations are like icebergs is because the majority of the work happens away from the audience. When developing a presentation correctly, you should spend more time not presenting. The majority of the work for a presentation occurs during the preparation and practice phase, which happens behind closed doors. The only visible part of the process is the actual act of standing in front of others talking as if you have been a pro for years.

A friend was flabbergasted one evening when we were talking about how much keynote presenters can make for a single presentation. She said, “I wish someone paid me thousands of dollars to just talk for an hour.” Besides the travel time, an excellent keynote presenter spends much more than an hour to earn thousands of dollars.

Maybe it’s a secret that only the best presenters know about, but who doesn’t want to be an expert on the topic. Presentations can accomplish this goal and win the trust of the audience, resulting in new business.

Click to view larger.Let’s break down the presentation iceberg:

  • Bottom of the presentation iceberg – Proper Preparation – This means that once you get that presentation scheduled, you should grab the pencil and paper and gather all the information you can about the audience you will be speaking to and the logistics. Then you prepare the perfect presentation for that audience; a presentation that the audience will walk away from and think about all the amazing stuff they learned from you and how much better life will be now that they have been educated.
  • Next level – Revising Your Presentation – I’m not going to lie, that sounds easy, but it is not as easy as it sounds. Crawling out from the bottom of the iceberg takes work, this means many revisions. Real revisions where you narrow down what you are going to be talking about to a reasonable number of points (I suggest a maximum of three points that fit into one thesis).
  • Just below the waterline – Evaluating Your Presentation – Then you continue up the side of the iceberg toward the surface where you evaluate all of your hard work objectively and ensure that your speech makes sense, as in it has an order that both you and the audience can easily follow.
  • Above the waterline – Practicing Your Presentation – The hardest part is trying to get out of the water and pull yourself onto the top of the iceberg. This frustrating part is the most critical phase; it is practicing for the presentation. Not just trying once or twice, but as many times until you are comfortable so you set yourself up to be successful. You can not read a script or refer to your notes in hand and be successful. You can find your own words from the outline you practice, even if your words are different each time you practice. Successfully practicing, so you don’t need the bullet points on the screen to check off that you got everything. You need to be familiar enough with your presentation that you really don’t need the slides at all, and they are just pretty pictures that correlate with the message.
  • Top of the iceberg – Delivering Your Presentation – This is the smallest part, and it takes the least amount of time, and it is the part that everybody in the audience sees. It’s the part that makes you look every bit the professional and expert you are because you spent all of the time and effort exploring the bottom of the iceberg and preparing first. The reason the delivery is so perfect is from all of those hours you spent practicing, stumbling over words, but it was all worth it. All of the extra effort starting at the bottom of the iceberg was worth it because your presentation was more successful than you hoped for and your audience is happy they attended because they learned so much.

The best parts of delivering a successful presentation are winning new work and being asked to speak somewhere else. Nearly ever presentation that I’ve done, I’ve been asked to speak at another group, and I usually get a client out of it (even when I spoke to only eight people early in my career). If you’re not seeing that kind of success, don’t just focus on the tip of the iceberg because when you don’t properly prepare and practice, your audience is seeing your dress rehearsal (at best) and that reflects on the quality of your work.

Additional Resources

  • Get strategies and best practices for developing winning presentations by downloading one of my presentation ebooks.
  • Master winning presentations by graduating from SpeakU!
  • Want even more presentation skills and tips? Follow Speak Simple on Facebook and SlideShare.

How Speak Simple Can Help You

Earn more new business with presentations, by winning proposal presentations and educating your prospective clients at conferences, workshops, and webinars. Your buyers want to learn from you, Speak Simple can show you how to maximize each opportunity and win more work with presentations.



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