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Book review: 100 things every presenter needs to know about people

 

Many thanks to  Dr Karen Price  for reviewing 100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People.

By Dr Susan Weinschenk

I bought this book on Kindle for the specific presentation I was due to give at Monash University on Womens Leadership.  Whilst I knew my topic, the finer points of delivering a better than average presentation was a skill I thought I needed to learn.

Additionally my topic had some contentious possibilities and so dealing with a difficult audience respondent might be handy to know. I was just a tad nervous.  Ultimately ‘100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People’, is a book about communication and human connectedness.

It is a great book to which to refer before every presentation to provide that polish and ultimately to increase the confidence of every presenter no matter the audience, the format, or the type of material to be presented.

Dr Weinschenk makes the point that continual improvement and review work well even for the seasoned performer.   ‘100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People’ is easy to read and divided into the 100 Points as mini chapters of three pages or so.  It is well presented with headings and a summary making the learning part of the reading fairly straightforward.

You can easily understand her background as a behavioural psychologist with commercial experience, academic presentations, Ted Talks and extensive presentation experience on the US talk circuit.  It is a ‘How to’ manual and speaks directly to the reader; however she gives regular links to academic papers, to Ted Talks and an extensive bibliography to support her guidance and expertise.

Dr Weinschenk also discusses her potential failures and guidance through references and anecdotes describing managing when things go wrong. This covers technology problems, hostile audiences, disinterested audiences, losing slides, and power blackouts.

“If you want to communicate with people effectively, then you need to understand how people think, filter information and learn”.

The point is well made from needing to present a highly academic statistical research paper, through to community presentations, ‘100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People’, will assist in communicating and translating effectively the key message.  Dr Weinschenk uses learning theory and encourages repetition and chunking of information, and suggests every talk should have a handout but given only AFTER the presentation.

Pearls are on every page including letting the audience rest, the power of the anecdote, visual style of the presentation, position of the speaker, room configuration, hand movements, down to power point font, colour and size.  She includes the use of video conferencing and even discusses giving presentations without slides or power point support.

Dr Weisnschenck warns against the fatal mistake of too much information on the slide the technique she refers to as putting your notes on the slide.  A badly prepared and presented presentation will communicate little, no matter how startling the research finding or important the message.  The commercial world knows this well and the medical and scientific communities are increasingly confronting HOW to communicate an important message or finding to others.  This book will assist that and develop that skill well.

There is great tragedy in having something important to say, complex or simple, but losing the audience in a series of unnecessary or unconscious mistakes.  ‘100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People’ would be recommended as an ongoing reference to inspire confidence and charisma for most styles of presentations required by health professionals.

I really liked that it gave me increased confidence to engage and hold my audience while delivering the key messages.  A competent presentation style that communicates and connects is a skill worth having and continuing to develop.  I will continue to review, improve and expect that every time I read ‘100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People’ I will develop any future presentations just that little bit better.

 

Dr Karen Price

MBBS, FRACGP

Chair of Women in General Practice Committee

Vic. RACGP

Family Practice

Melbourne.

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