3 Tips for Presentation Mastery

THE BIG IDEA: Delivering presentations that stick is a staple of extraordinary leaders. Here are three tips to help you hone your presentation skills.


Presenting ideas is a skill. Mastering this skill is essential for leaders committed to moving their people toward greatness.

In a recent Fortune interview, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf explains, “Early on in my career at the company, I was terrified of public speaking. My boss picked up on this and said, “You’ve got to fix this. If you can’t, that’s a career disabler.” So I joined Toastmasters, a nonprofit organization that works with members to improve speech skills.

“During my first meeting, I set the club record for the number of “uhs” and “ums” I said in a two-minute speech—but I learned to speak.”

The more we improve our communication skills, the better leader we become.

Here are three helpful secrets to help you become a more effective communicator:

Tell a Compelling Story

Think about your favorite story: What about it drew you in? What about it captured your attention? How did it make you feel?

Our brains love stories. Stories evoke emotions. Emotions are how we connect to what’s meaningful for us. We learn through stories.

We identify with the characters in stories and experience what they experience. Your words can paint pictures in your employees’ minds. With vivid storytelling, you can help bring those pictures to life.

Use less complex data and statistics; use more stories, symbols, and metaphors.

If you need a little help thinking in terms of storytelling, take a look at how Steve Jobs sold big ideas to the world.

Be Succinct

Shakespeare said it best: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

Some of the world’s best speakers used very few words to communicate powerful messages.

When putting your speeches together, don’t be afraid to trim the fat. Rigorous editing challenges you to clarify your ideas to the point where they have the greatest chance of penetrating the minds of your audience.


The more relaxed and centered you are when you speak, the more your audience will relax. Your audience will be more engaged in your presentation when you enter a more natural and spontaneous state.

Even veteran stage performers get nervous before the big show. And that’s okay.

The key to relaxing is connecting with your breath.  Take a few moments before you enter the room, and bring your attention to your breath.

Take a few slow, steady, deep breaths. Allow any tensions you’re holding to release and sink down with each breath.

Now it is your turn to go “WOW” your audience.

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