Master Presenting

Stop The Awkwardness—Present with Confidence

Content and Presenting Wisdom from C.C. Chapman

C.C. Chapman connecting with the audience.

C.C. Chapman connecting with the audience.

While I spent some time in Afghanistan, I read the book Amazing Things Will Happen and it blew me away. Then I noticed that in my Kindle I had Content Rules and lo’ and behold, same fella, C.C. Chapman. We’ve been social media compadres for a bit and I asked him to throw me his best presenting advice. He delivered.

C.C., you present far and wide on creating valuable content for your company and brand. How do you start developing a presentation for an audience?

I always start on paper first.

I like to lay out the ideas I want to get across to that particular audience. I’ll fill a sheet of paper with bullet points, ideas, doodles and more. Then I can look at it and start mapping out the flow of where I want the talk to go.

Recently, Tamsen Webster taught me the Oratium methodology for presentations and the biggest take away I got was that every talk must have a single point that you want the audience to walk away with. That training changed everything for me.

How do you connect with your audience? How do you get them to trust you?

I’m honest with them.

Some presenters can take the stage and put on a different face. When I’m on stage it is the same person that you would have a drink with later in the night.

Being a humble New England guy makes me very approachable and I never think I know more than the audience I’m in front of. I show confidence since I know I’m there to educate and inspire them, but I never want to be the guy that acts like they know more than everyone in the room.

I also make tons of eye contact with everyone in the room. I always find someone who looks like they are not into what I’m saying and the person that is nodding along. I’ll go back and forth between them whenever I need to gauge how I’m doing. Nothing feels better than when I get a nod or smile from that person who wasn’t into it at the beginning.

In Content Rules you talk about the six aspects of content or a story— True, Relevant, Human, Passionate, Original and Surprising. How do you integrate those aspects into your presentation?

True – I don’t lie

Relevant – I’m constantly updating my deck up until the last minute so that if there are current events that I can add to make a point I will. I’ve been reading the paper over breakfast and pulled in a local news story before because I knew the audience would appreciate the relevance.

Human – I’m emotional on stage. I talk with my hands. I’ll laugh, yell and wear my passion on my sleeve. This lets everyone in the room know that I’m not just there for the paycheck. I want them to know that I genuinely care that they walk away with something more than they arrived with.

Passionate – Anyone who knows me, knows that if I’m not passionate about what I’m speaking about I don’t do it. I care too much not to bring passion to everything I do.

Original – While many presentations I give will have similar points, every talk I give is unique. Plus, over the last year I’ve set a rule that I’ll only use original photos in my talks which is challenging, but I love it. It is one way that I can insure that no one has ever seen the content in my talk anywhere else before.

Surprising – I enjoy using different examples than what might be the norm. I’ll pull in music, video games or non profit examples in the hopes that not many people in the room have seen them. Nothing gets more boring than when every speaker is using the same examples over and over.

Tell us about the connections you’ve generated from presenting?.

Some of my best business contacts and friendships have come from presenting.

Plus, great speaking gets you more speaking opportunities.

What are some rookie moves you’ve seen from other presenters? What makes you cringe? (We will protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.)

The one that drives me nuts more than any other is when they are not prepared.

You need to be able to give your whole talk without your slides. If you don’t know the material and your subject that well, you need to practice more.

Slides are there to supplement what you are saying, not replace it. When they are covered in bullet points and read to the audience you are doing a bad job! Never need technology to get your point across.

Also, don’t pitch from the stage. Yes, we all need to make money, but no one paid to hear your sales pitch.

What does your rehearsal look like?

I tend to sit down, close my eyes and give the talk out loud to myself. This way I can see the slides in my head and think about the transitions and such.

When it is more of a TEDx style talk, I’ll actually script out the whole thing and learn it. Reciting the lines as if I was practicing for a play (which I grew up doing, so the stage is a second home to me.)

Finally, I always have a copy of my slides on my iPad and I always flip through them the morning of and just before my talk for one last refresher.

In Amazing Thing Will Happen, you talk about the benefit of carrying a notebook at all times. What are ways that helps someone who is planning a presentation?

You’ve always got a place to jot down a quick idea.

When I have a talk coming up, I’ll set aside two pages and write the name of the talk at the top. That way when something comes to mind I can go to that page and quickly jot it down.

Trust me when I say that some of the best ideas will be forever lost if you don’t write them down in some fashion and my notebook has never let me down.

Anything else you’d like to tell new presenters? Can you drop some wisdom on our heads?

It seems that everyone wants to be a keynote presenter and yet they don’t want to put in the time and effort to be really good at it.

That person standing up to give you a talk has spent years fine tuning their craft and you shouldn’t expect the glory and paychecks to start rolling in just because you want them to.

I come from a background of theater and thus love the stage. I’ve been taught improv so I can think on my feet. The stage doesn’t scare me, it excites me. But, that came from years of talks in front of audiences big and small.

Finally, never take your audience for granted. With everything else they could be doing with their time they are sitting down in front of YOU to hear what you have to say. Respect that always.

cc_chapman_karen_walrondC.C. Chapman is a Boston based storyteller, explorer and humanitarian. He is the founder of Never Enough Days, a conscience-based consultancy specializing in social good, cause marketing and corporate social responsibility.

C.C. is the author of three books including the International best-seller Content Rules and Amazing Things Will Happen. &

About Ryan McRae

Ryan McRae has presented all over the world from South Africa to Afghanistan. He has spoken and designed presentations for Fortune 100 companies and wants this tech-focused culture to be able to speak well and with confidence.

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