Occasionally I get calls from prospective clients that want to give me a loose idea of what they’re thinking about for a presentation along with a few vague parameters, and they want me to send them a completed PowerPoint slide deck and accompanying script in a few days. I inform them that I don’t write presentations for other speakers, but I will guide them and educate them through the entire presentation preparation process, and here is why.
10 Reasons Why I Don’t Write Presentations for My Clients
- I’m Not the Subject Matter Expert – Yes, I can interview someone and ghostwrite a presentation, but it is best for the expert to share their own thoughts in the presentation because that is what the audience wants and needs. The expert’s viewpoint and expertise is why audiences attend a presentation, not to hear someone recite something; they can read what someone else wrote.
- Scripting is a Bad Idea – I’ve talked about the negative aspects of scripting numerous times. It leads to increased anxiety because memorizing a script is challenging and if you miss a line, you tend to skip entire sections. Also, when reciting a script, most people tend to come off as fake or if they are acting. (A primary reason why public speaking is the same as acting.)
- Lacks Speaker’s Personality – Everyone has a way of saying things and word selection varies greatly from person-to-person. If someone else writes your presentation, your words will not sound like you and you will not be comfortable presenting that presentation.
- Lacks Authenticity – People crave authenticity and that lack of personality makes you seem fake or disingenuine. Storytelling is a major aspect of public speaking, but the stories need to sound like you were there.
- Proper Presentation Preparation Leads to Better Presentations – As you develop your presentation from the initial brainstorming to developing your thesis & outline, and begin to run through and practice your presentation, your word selection gets better, you get more comfortable with the presentation, and you remember what messages you want to share. Skipping the development process is short-sided because you would need to spend more time practicing and rehearsing when learning a presentation written by someone else.
- Speakers That Outsource their Presentation Don’t Practice – Although outsourcing your presentation development to someone else should free a presenter up to practice it a few times, I’ve found that most speakers skip practicing the presentation altogether. They just want to glance at the slide deck, walk into the auditorium, and deliver the presentation — that just isn’t the way to give the audience your best and the main reason why so many people think presentations have little to no ROI. Because presenters that outsource their presentation don’t practice enough, they want more bullet points, which you know is a bad idea.
- Presenting is a Skill That Gets Better with Frequency – As you create more presentations, going through the entire process from brainstorming to delivery gets faster. I know proper presentation preparation takes a lot of time at first, but your process will become more efficient as you become a better speaker. (Don’t forget that many strong presenters with good delivery skills fall flat because they skip the preparation process thinking they’re good enough to “wing it”.)
- Technical Presenters Need to Learn to Simplify – If I write a presentation and simplify the language, most technical speakers will still use their normal industry jargon, acronyms, and speak to their audience at a high-level. Going through the process of creating and writing the presentation and keeping simplification in mind helps to ensure the delivery will be simplified as well. Focusing on simplifying your language during your presentation bleeds over into other client-focused items like in your marketing materials, proposals, your prospect meetings, and in your day-to-day correspondences.
- It Won’t Be Your Presentation, It is Mine – Early in my career, I created a few presentations for executives that didn’t have time to write presentations and their comments were all the same, this doesn’t sound like me. (Yet, I’ve never had a client that I guided through the process say anything close to that and they have much more successful presentations that win them a lot of work. Maybe I’m on to something.)
- Presenters Redo The Presentation Anyway – In the attempt to make the presentation their own, from a lack of understanding how I got to the end results because they didn’t go through the process, or they don’t want to practice and need bullet points, most presenters will redo (and mutilate) the presentation I would have put together anyway, so why bother having me write the presentation anyway.
I’m fine with my clients outsourcing their visual aid (PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote), but the presentation’s thesis and outline need to be created by the presenter. You can have your slide deck created by your internal design/marketing team, use a presentation design firm like Puffingston, or hire a freelancer via Upwork. Before the design is completed, the presenter should walk through the outline a few times to gain familiarity. Then when the design is complete, the presenter still needs to practice and have a dress rehearsal.
In the end, it is about being audience-centric and delivering what they want most. Many presenters that want to outsource their entire presentation are only looking out for themselves and value their time over the audience’s time.
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How Speak Simple Can Help You
Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being an excellent presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.