On Sunday April 3 the New York Times Business Section had an interview with Chris Cunningham, CEO of Appsavvy, a social media marketing firm. Mr. Cunningham’s company has a unique twist to their hiring process. Check it out. There is some interesting career success advice here…
“Every job candidate must present to five to seven people as the final step before we hire them…This is where you can make or break it, and we find out if they’re an all-star or whether we just avoided making a bad hire.”
Imagine that – having to make a presentation before you even get hired!
Presenting with impact is a very important career success skill. It’s really simple common sense; if you want to create the life and career success you want and deserve, you have to be a good presenter. Yet speaking in public scares the hell out of some people.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Tweet 118 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Presentations are easy. Write your closing first, you opening next. Then fill in the content. Practice, practice, practice.”
People remember two things about your presentation: how you begin and how you finish. They remember how you finish because that’s the last thing they hear. You want to finish strong, reinforcing and highlighting the main points you want people to remember. That’s one reason for writing your closing first. This is the best presentation and career success advice I can give you.
Another reason for writing your closing first is because it will help you map out the rest of your content. You’ll probably have more information than you need for any presentation you make. If you write your closing first, you can use it to help you decide what information to leave in and what to leave out of your presentation.
For example, when I do my talk “How to Create the Life and Career Success You Want and Deserve” I always end by saying something like…
“And there you have it, my best advice on how to create the life and career success you want and deserve.
“It comes down to Four Cs: clarity, commitment, confidence and competence.
“If you want to create a successful life and career, you have to
a) Clarify the purpose and direction for your life and career. b) Commit to taking personal responsibility for your life and career success.
c) Build unshakeable self-confidence. d) Get competent in four areas: creating positive personal impact, outstanding performance, dynamic communication, and relationship building.
“Hopefully, you know more about how to create the life and career success you want and deserve now than an hour ago. But, like the US Steel pencils my dad would bring home from work used to say, ‘Knowing is not enough.’ You’ve got to use the information you learned here today if you are going to create the life and career success you want and deserve.”
When I was developing this talk, I wrote this closing first. I began by listing the key points I wanted to make – in this case the 4 Cs of Career Success. Any time I was wondering if I should include a specific piece of information in the talk, I asked myself, “Does this information reinforce the point I want people to remember about this talk?” If the answer was “yes,” I left it in. If “no,” I took it out.
OK, got it about writing your closing first? Good. Now let’s talk about writing your opening second.
You want to accomplish two things in your presentation opening: 1) Capture the audience’s attention, and 2) Give them some idea of what you will be covering in your talk.
When I do my talk, “How to Create the Life and Career Success You Want and Deserve” I always begin by saying something like…
“Hello and thank you for coming. Today, I want to dispel one of the biggest myths about life and career success. And that myth is, ‘good performance is enough to create the life and career success you want and deserve.’ Good performance not only is not enough, it is merely the price of admission in today’s highly competitive world.
“If you want to create a successful life and career, think C – no, think 4 Cs…
“Clarity, Commitment, Confidence and Competence.
“If you want to create a successful life and career, you have to:
a) Clarify the purpose and direction for your life and career. b) Commit to taking personal responsibility for your life and career success. c) Build unshakeable self-confidence. d) Get competent in four areas: creating positive personal impact, outstanding performance, dynamic communication and relationship building.
“Over the next hour, I’m going to tell you more about each of these four Cs and show you how to put them to work to create the life and career success you want and deserve…”
See what I mean? I capture the audience’s attention by telling them that I am going to explode a myth about life and career success. Then I share the myth. Then I outline what I am going to cover in the next hour. This approach to writing and delivering a presentation is simple common sense.
This format is the golden rule of journalism: Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you’ve told them.
By writing your closing first and your opening second, you’ve done two of these: you’ve told your audience what you’re going to tell them in your opening, and you’ve recapped what you’ve told them in your closing. Filling in the content becomes pretty simple once you’ve completed these two steps.
Finally, remember the last three words of Success Tweet 118 – practice, practice, practice. Practice your presentation out loud. Practice it until you are supremely confident in what you will say and how you will say it. A well designed presentation will fall flat on its face if you’re not prepared to give it. And practice is the best way to prepare for any presentation.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. If you want to create and deliver dynamic presentations that get you known as a high performer, follow the career advice in Tweet 118 in Success Tweets. “Presentations are easy to create. Write your closing first, your opening next. Then fill in the content. Practice. Practice. Practice.” Writing your closing first gives you the direction you need to create a dynamic presentation. Writing your opening next helps you capture the audience’s attention and gives you an outline for creating the rest of your content. I learned this bit of career advice early in my career – way back in 1973 – and have used it ever since. If you use it, you’ll be on your way to creating the life and career success you want and deserve.
That’s my career advice on creating and giving dynamic presentations. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your presentation stories – the good, the bad and the ugly – with us in a comment. As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you.