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What You Need to Learn From Lion Tamers

Any lion tamer will have three tools to control their majestic beast: a whip, a stool, and a fistful of enticing snacks. Which of these tools is most useful?

Most would say it’s the whip, but they would be wrong. It’s the stool. When the lion tamer raises the stool to face his roaring counterpart, the lion sees all four stool legs and doesn’t know which one to focus on. Consequently, they stand frozen, enabling the tamer to keep them under control.

As interesting as this may be, we as humans are not impervious to this same manipulation. When you try focus on too many things in your work, you become incapable of taking effective action on any of them. Lack of focus significantly impairs your ability to lead and stick to your plan, especially when giving a presentation.

In order to prevent what I like to call the very appropriately named “tamed-lion syndrome” you should follow these rules:

Set goals.

Know what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and where you want to take it. Know all of that, and the goal-making process will be a piece of cake. Go to the first day of class and what does the professor do? He goes over the syllabus and talks about his goals for you as his student. Join a gym your instructor will immediately talk about your goals and what exactly you hope to achieve with your body. Both the college professor and the gym instructor are following the same trend, they’re highlighting end results. They’re trying to lure you in by showing you the potential the service can offer you.

 It is useful to set goals at all levels, daily, weekly, monthly, annual, and long term. Expressing your short and long term goals in your presentation are great for transparency for your audience. Giving a clear message and ultimate goal to your audience will allow them to empathize with you and genuinely understand your passion. It’s a universal fact that empathy, or really just emotion, is the single most powerful tool for selling. All in all, it’s pretty simple; set goals, explain them, and sell more.

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

-Steve Jobs

Get your priorities straight.

This is arguably the most important and useful factor when it comes to focusing. Knowing your long term goal is the best way to start. That in itself takes a while to figure out. But once you take that step, highlight, circle, star, check, enumerate, or do whatever it is you have to do to prioritize your tasks to get you to your goal. The more detailed, the more effective it’ll be. Priorities should be outlined along with your goals in your presentation. This comes back to transparency; the more your audience can understand you and your company, the more comfortable they will feel with you.



Colan, Lee.What Lion Tamers Know About Focus. July 19, 2013. 
Jarrett, Christian. “How Goals and Good Intentions Can Hold Us Back.99u. July 10, 2012.

5 Characteristics of Ideas That Spread

Your success as a business professional doesn’t stop at coming up with an idea, but only when you can convince others to use it.

In other words, to quote the timeless saying “Ideas are a dime-a-dozen, execution is all that matters.” With that, a resulting logical question would be “How do you execute successfully?”

In order to answer that, we need to first look at another question, which is “how do you improve your chances of getting your idea adopted by others?” If you’re measuring your success on the influence you have on others, the latter question is where to start, and with the idea of improving your odds of adoption you need to think of the medium through which you convey the idea itself: your corporate presentation, investor pitch presentation, or really any professional PowerPoint presentation.

In 1962 a sociology professor at Ohio State University named Everett Rodgers published a book called “Diffusion of Innovation,” which was ultimately a large-scale research project on why ideas spread. The study gathered the results of over 500 case studies showing why some ideas are adopted among people and organizations and why others aren’t. The study’s results outlined a set of five factors that direct and influence our decision to adopt or reject ideas:

Relative Advantage

This is basically the higher degree to which an idea is perceived as relative to the existing standard. Just how much of an improvement is it over the previous generation? Relative Advantage is what most people think of when they hear your company’s name; its the brand, or collective cognitive understanding of a concept.


This relates to the same concept as Trialability: the more users are able to observe, listen, taste, or use your product or service, the more noticeable it will be. At its core, this means that you need to set your idea up in not only an extreme variety of avenues, but avenues that are popular and showcase to the most amount of people. Sometimes this won’t even mean the obvious ones like Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube, but might mean your local park, school, or grocery store. Think creatively and explain your plan for observability in your PowerPoint presentations, investor pitches, etc.


How easily can I use past ideas, experiences or businesses to understand how your new idea functions or benefits me? It’s essentially the ability to connect past success to your new venture. Take Apple, for example, their more recent products at some level are more improved versions of the old ones.  Whether talking about the laptops, iPads, iPhones; they are each better versions of the old, but the old proved to be successful, so the updated version should too. Show how your venture is compatible through your presentations and pitches and you’ll see an increase in not only adoption, but also sales!


Oddly enough, complexity is actually about simplicity, or how easy it is for people to understand your idea. What’s the logic? What’s the system? What’s the benefit? My benefit? An idea that is too difficult for most to understand is scary and, therefore, ineffective when it comes to persuasion. The simple ideas like Steve Jobs’ “a thousand songs in my pocket” for the iPod that stick, and stick well!

Trial Ability

This is measuring how easily your targeted audience can try it out? The more testers you get to try your idea out, the more feedback you’ll get, and the more users you will open yourself to adopt. Most musicians nowadays start off by sharing their music for free on YouTube. Why? It’s an easy way to have users try their material, and if it’s worthwhile, it’ll spread like wildfire! The more they can try it, the more certainty there is about committing to it.

Circling back to our original question, “How do you execute successfully?” we see that one needs to not only make their ideas fit each of these characteristics, but convey them through the avenues in which they are judged, namely corporate or executive presentations.



Burkus, David. “The 5 Common Characteristics of Ideas That Spread.99u. October 7, 2013.

Our Best PowerPoint Recommendations of 2013.SlideGenius. December 10, 2013.

Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations, 5th Edition. 5th ed. New York: Free Press, 2014. 576.

Halloween’s Takeaway Lessons for Presentations and Marketing

I say Halloween, what do you think of? Costumes, candy and cavities? Most people do.

The fact of the matter is Halloween is one of the most commercially influential holidays throughout the year. It is crucial to be able to see it as more than just a holiday for young kids to trick-or-treat. In just analyzing 2013’s Halloween’s sales and marketing activity, you’ll be able to tailor the way you present and/or market your company to increase sales for the season, and respectively apply the same tactics to any other holiday in the near future.

Here are a few facts and stats about this year’s Halloween:

1. This year, according to Bloomberg Rankings, it seems Americans are spending less Halloween costumes, candy and decorations

2. Almost 75% of Americans who celebrate Halloween said that the state of the U.S. economy had no impact on their Halloween plans

3. Nearly 33% of “Halloween celebrators” found inspiration for their costumes online

4. About 50% of adults in the western U.S. planning to wear costumes this year, which was the most out of any other part in the country

5. Despite the above fact, the overall number of people above the age of 18 who celebrated Halloween dropped from 71% percent to 65%

6. Americans spent an average of $20.99 per person on Halloween decorations

So what’s the takeaway?

Don’t be most people, do your research with plenty of time before the season hits. Use the information, and market accordingly. Marketing for this may include giving a PPC marketing, online campaigns, or maybe even a professional PowerPoint presentation to pitch. For that reason, it is crucial to prepare yourself for any avenue of marketing by having the necessary data about your potential customers.

 Whether you business runs on sale for adults, teens or children, laying out the bullet points, like we did here, will help you understand how your market reacts to any event and will consequently let you prepare your corporate presentations or pitches with a more complete and well-rounded background. 

 I’ll leave with Huffington Post’s hilarious list of 2013’s best costumes:



Murray, Brent. “The Scary Truth About Halloween: Oh, My! October 31, 2013.

What Kind of Voice do you Have?

Have you ever met someone who is ALWAYS obnoxiously loud when they talk? How about someone who is too quiet? Or maybe someone with a ridiculously deep voice? Similarly, have you ever wondered what people think of your voice?

Voice volume, melody, strength, variety, and overall quality is an essential factor when it comes to how people view us. In any situation, while at a party, in the movie theater, or more importantly, while giving a presentation, people around us are constantly judging how we move, what we say, and how we say it.

Specific to presentations, some believe that our content is most important. While content may be the foundation of the presentation, your delivery is what will decide what the audience think of you, and consequently how they act on your presentation.

Here are three categories of voice that you should focus on to better your next corporate presentation:


It’s relatively obvious that if your audience can’t hear you, what you’re saying will be of no value. On the other hand, you don’t want to be “that guy” that comes out screaming with unnecessary enthusiasm. Actually in that case, the entire audience is just thinking of ways to kill you, or at least shut you up, which is probably not the takeaway you want to leave them with. Volume should be appropriate in strength and intensity and should be varied in order to add emphasis and dramatic impact to your speeches. Inaudibility is often associated with unintelligibility. If you want to communicate with your audience, you must project your voice. A great way to judge your level is testing whether or not the person sitting in the last row can hear you.

Monotonous vs. Melodious

You are either monotonous or melodious. When you speak about something, it is important to focus on conveying life, color, and melody. We have all had the one professor in school or conference speaker whose sentences come out flat, wooden, and without variety. How wide would you say your vocal range is? Any good speaker will vary their speech within every few sentences and sometimes just for specific words or phrases. Think of your favorite song, and imagine how many peaks from high to low and there are in any given 5 seconds. Those changes in pitch are what make you like the song and bob your head and sing along. While you may not want your audience to bob or sing at what you’re saying, you sure do want their attention, so it is important to make sure you have the right pitch and tune. If you think your voice might be squeaky, harsh, high-pitched, or flat, then you should work on your pitch. This will help express the necessary emotion and conviction needed to keep your audience interested.

Quality & Clarity

The essence of your speaking sound is your voice quality. It expresses emotional color. Your voice coloring is what you use to convey your feelings, and these feelings should be positive when you address an audience. Your thoughts are a form of energy that you transmit to others. Through the quality of your voice, you actually establish the tone of your relationship with an audience or with an individual to whom you’re speaking.

Speaking in a clear, smooth, and enthusiastic voice will help create a unique and useful bond of friendship and acceptance with your listeners. Conversely, if your voice is nasally, raspy, or lifeless, you are doing something wrong. The primary cause of bad voice quality is tension; both emotional and physical.

A useful route to developing your voice quality and clarity lies in the awareness of the different roles you play during a usual day. As a parent, employee, supervisor, friend, lover, shopper, seller, you inherently cultivate unique personality traits and voice levels. To improve your voice quality, you must become aware of stress, muscle tension, and relaxation in each of these roles you live with.

When it comes time to present, in any medium follow these next few tips and ensure a reduction of tension condition:

  1. Relax your throat
  2. Gargle water
  3. Take deep breaths
  4. Smile, for a whole minute before your presentation

 If you reduce the tension in your voice, a pleasant tone will likely result which will in turn reel in your audience. Remember that the emotions and vocal colorings you express with your voice can arouse similar emotions in others.


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Your Speaking Voice.

3 Things You Must do at the Start of Your Presentation

Think of how the most recent Bond movies start.

They begin off with 8 minutes of Daniel Craig punching, shooting, and shoving his way through building walls, while back flipping onto moving boats, while explosions are going off everywhere, after which he gets a  wink and kiss from some girl who is probably in some Victoria’s Secret cover … and all of this happens before the credits even roll.

Set your corporate presentation alongside to that intro sequence. That’s your competition.  The world has changed into a viral and fast-paced society that needs instant gratification in every aspect of their lives. Audiences no longer hold the patience to listen to you going on and on about boring background or technical information. Your audience will judge you and decide whether you are even worth listening too within those first 8 minutes, probably even before that.

These next 3 steps are the key to maximizing your introduction, and in so doing, captivating your audience:

1)     Establish your credibility. Traditionally speaking, credibility is generated from two independent factors: trust and expertise. If your audience find you trustworthy and reliable they will feel compelled to listen to you, regardless of what you’re saying.  Unlike trustworthiness, expertise tends to be judged more objectively, with credentials, certifications or quality of information. So don’t be afraid to throw you titles and education at your audience. Charisma is the last piece in establishing credibility. If people like you, they will listen. Now, to apply credibility to your corporate presentation or investor presentation you only need a couple of slides. Demonstrate that your company has the right experience and you will put the audience into a constructive frame of mind – seeking to find ways to use what the presenter is offering, rather than seeking to find holes in your arguments.

2)     Empathize. Prospects are usually looking for somebody who understands the challenges they face, and who can offer a solution to these problems. After or during the time frame when you are sharing your credibility, present an outline of the specific issue or problem your work relates to. In doing this, you show your audience that you understand the problem. After drawing them in with your outline, spend your time showing how you can solve these problems the audience have. The key issue here is to make sure that you actually talk to the audience’s challenges; if the audience don’t recognize themselves in your portrayal, then you won’t succeed in displaying empathy.


3)     Promote Interaction. Try to start your presentation with a question or challenge for the audience. By presenting a well-judged puzzle and asking the audience to solve it, attention levels can quickly be raised. Careful to not do anything too hard or too easy, they are easy ways to make this tactic backfire and disengage the crowd. On a related note, it is most effective to promote interaction both at the beginning and at the end of your presentation. Most “presentation experts” simply walk up, say their “schpeel,” and walk off. Like reading a good story, they give you good content, but then stop. The point of a presentation is to achieve some sort of business related action. Sell, buy, invest, divest; it’s all part of the same root.  What is the point of your presentation if you don’t leave the audience with a call to action? Just because they listened to you doesn’t mean they’ll do anything else. Leave them with a “next step.”

Let’s sum up. Starting your presentation effectively is critical to its success. If done poorly, your introduction can singlehandedly loose your audience for the entire presentation. Know what the point of your presentation is, and act accordingly. Use these 3 tactics to maximize your next PowerPoint presentation.

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Lessons from The Godfather: How to Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse

“Italians have a little joke, that the world is so hard a man must have two fathers to look after him, and that’s why they have godfathers.”

-Tom Hagen, the Godfather’s consigliore

Well in our boundless affinity for Mario Puzo’s trilogy, we’ve found that the Don’s wisdom reaches all the way into the world of presentation consulting!

It seems as though sometimes, the best advice comes from where you least expect it. Though he may not be a presentation expert, here are 4 lessons Don Corleone can teach you about making an offer your audience can’t refuse, which can be applied immediately to any corporate presentation:

  1. Have a clear message and tangible vision. Michael Corleone makes it clear that he has a plan to evolve his illicit family dealings into a completely legal and officially recognized business.  In the beginning of the second film, Michael describes this dream to Kay, his wife, claiming how “in 5 years our [his] family business will be completely legitimate.” While he never achieves this goal, the Don pushes himself and those around him in its direction throughout the three films. It’s crucial to make clear to the people you work with, or want to work with, what your goals are (quantify everything), what you want for your company in the short and long term, and what your overarching focus is on. If your presentation can say all of this, and leave your audience on the same page as you are and earn the respect and approval you deserve.
  2. Know your competition. “Never let anyone outside the family know what you are thinking.” Michael Corleone, and practically every mobster shown in the trilogy seems to know that competition in any industry is tough, and one has to think and act a very specific way in order to come out on top (or alive). Vito Corleone educates us about competition in saying, “never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.” While presenting, it is actually a good tactic to use your competition to show how you’re different or better than they are. Don’t blatantly insult or undermine them, simply come up with rational and objective facts that support your reasoning.
  3. You’re always building your community. The Godfather is recognized for knowing not only how to do a favor, but how to ask for others to repay it. He shows us that community building and networking is a 24/7 job. Business can be made anywhere from a conference room to a birthday party, to even a flight to San Francisco. With that in mind, use your presentation to reel in new friends into your family. Know who you’re speaking in front of, what interests they might have, and most importantly, show them what unique qualities you can offer them. Also, don’t be afraid or too lazy to do a favor. After all, you might even get lucky enough to repeat Marlon Brando’s iconic statement:Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me.”
  4. Show decisiveness. The Godfather is both loved and feared for his decisive, and sometimes ruthless, character. Both Vito and Michael knew that protecting their family, and expanding their influence was necessary for survival and success. When circumstance called for it, both Vito and Michael were willing to kill or die for what they believed in. While you may not have to kill anyone to prove your point, it’s imperative to think logically and act quickly. Specifically to your presentation, if you’re asked a question, know the answer! Anticipate everything by practicing a lot and in front of varied audiences. Hesitation leads to regret. Additionally, don’t come off as ambiguous in any aspect of the content you present. Know your position.

While I don’t endorse crime or the mafia, it would be foolish to oversee the valuable lessons they share, applicable to all presentation designers. And finally, always remember, “Great men aren’t born great, they grow great.”  

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