Emotions 2 – Surprise

Surprise is one of the presenter’s best friends. Why? Because it’s all about that most valuable commodity: audience attention. Professor Bryan Boyd suggests that our minds exist to do one thing: [...]

Emotions I

We misunderstand how people make decisions. That’s the message in Kotter and Cohen’s The Heart of Change. The standard view, they say, is that we analyse, then think, and then we change. They [...]

Language and the Brain

One thing that distinguishes great presenters is their choice of language. What do we need to know about language to help us do even better presentations? Imagine you were running a university [...]

The Benefits of a Story

Using a story is a good idea. We get to the problem early and understand it pretty clearly. It also gives you the potential to talk about other elements in your pitch (competition, business [...]

Laser Pointers

I often see pitches where the presenter uses a laser pointer. I’m not a big fan. First, it doesn’t highlight information as well as the speaker thinks. Often it just confuses the audience. [...]

Rhyme or Reason?

I recently touched upon the current debate in the UK which seeks to divide people into ‘strivers’ – often also known as ‘hard-working people (especially ‘families’ – British politicians love [...]

The Secret of Success

Just in! After more than twenty years watching thousands of presentations, here are the long-awaited conclusions. Below you will find a cutting-, nay, bleeding-edge toolbox of …er, tools to help [...]


“He encouraged us.” The epitaph that Tony Benn chose for himself. And, judging by the reaction to his recent death, that is exactly what Tony Benn did for so many people. He encouraged them to [...]

The Power of Poetry

What passing bells for those who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the guns. Only the stuttering rifles rapid rattle Can patter out their hasty orisons. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by [...]


The 50th anniversary of his death has put John F. Kennedy firmly back in the spotlight. And what strikes me about Kennedy is that he is Mr Contrast. Not just in the startling differences between [...]

The Sound of Silence

When Paul Simon wrote of people talking without speaking people hearing without listening he probably did not have the modern business presentation in mind, but I think we’ve all been there, [...]


I’m obsessed with someone off the telly. For a middle-aged bloke, this might be embarrassing enough; the fact that the object of my obsession is another bloke around 20 years my senior takes it [...]


“No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” So said Mark Twain, and he knew a fair bit about words. One of the easiest ways to improve your presentation is to take his advice and [...]

Eye Contact

The easiest, most powerful way to get the audience’s attention is to look at them. Eye contact is fundamental. Even very young babies are hard-wired to pay more attention to people looking [...]