What are the four things?

The four things are the first, lowest-hanging-fruit, things you can do to improve your presentation, often without even touching your slide deck.

You can read about these four things below, but if you prefer to listen, they are described here in this podcast episode:

One: Use a story structure.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean rewriting your entire pitch so it becomes like a child’s storybook, like “Johnny Builds A Road.”

It does, however, mean we connect it with your company’s USP (unique selling proposition) and make sure your pitch presentation is built around that.

It also involves identifying where in the outline each slide should fall, and rearranging the slides to match that outline.

The result is that your pitch takes on a rational organization it didn’t have before, and your ability to think and plan clearly rises in your customer’s eyes.

Two: Reduce your filler word count.

I, um, went, um, to the, um, store.

I went to the store.

Read them out loud. Compare them. Which one is easier to hear?

It’s absolutely true, filler words — ahhs and umms — they give you time to think.

And thinking is good. No one wants an engineer who doesn’t think.

But every time a sound comes out of your mouth, your audience has to, even if it’s just for a millisecond, think about that sound. What does it mean? Should I keep it? Should I discard it?

So if you’re using a lot of filler words, the result is that your audience is doing a lot of extra work.

Instead of filling those gaps between the words with ahhs and umms, fill them with silence.

You’ll still get your time to think, but your audience will be going, “This guy is thoughtful and he knows exactly what he is doing.”

Three: Make mirror neurons work for you.

What are mirror neurons?

Basically, it’s that humans tend to do what other humans are doing.

You know how if you’re at a party talking to someone, and they are smiling, you’ll smile too, even though you’re not sure why you’re smiling? And if someone points their foot at you, you’ll often point your foot at them?

That’s mirror neurons at work.

We know, being nervous is actually completely normal. Humans are social animals, so when a bunch of people are staring at you, you get nervous. That’s completely natural.

But make this natural tendency work for you, not against you.

We’re going to practice your pitch, over and over, so that you feel more relaxed and confident when giving it. And because you are more relaxed and confident, the natural body language skills you’ve had all your life (hand gestures, eye contact, etc) come back.

Four: Use vivid vocabulary.

Active vocabulary puts images in your audience’s heads, and keeps your message alive even when you’ve left the room.

We record your presentation, rewrite it with more colorful vocabulary, and practice using the new, more expressive, words.

Tip: If you’re doing this by yourself, copy/paste your original transcript into ChatGPT with the prompt “rewrite this using more vivid verbs.”