A fellow professional speaker and mate, Graham Davies, has written one of the best books I’ve ever read on presentation skills. It’s “The Presentation Coach: Bare Knuckle Brilliance For Every Presenter” (Capstone). Buy it now at Amazon.co.uk or Kalahari.net if you’re in South Africa. Seriously – get a copy!
You need to know something about Graham to appreciate just how good this is. He is an “in your face”, take no crap, ex barrister, who has a reputation for being a superb conference facilitator and presentation skills coach with a wickedly biting sense of humour – see his website here. He’d be a fearsome adversary in a debate. He has trained some of the UK’s top politicians and business people in presenting, and does so with a direct style and a twinkle in his eye. To be honest, if there was any professional speaker that I would have wanted to write a book on presentation skills, it would be Graham. And he has not disappointed!
This book is to the point, contains great advice, and is laugh out loud funny.
The magazine, Management Today reviewed the book: “Guiding nervous or accomplished speakers alike through a methodical process on getting inspiration for and writing and performing a presentation, this book shows you how to force creativity. It’s a reassuringly orderly take on how to engage an audience. ‘The mantra of the 21st-century presenter should be: Say it. Support it. Shut it’. Probably the best advice we’ve heard in a while. – Best of its kind.”
This book doesn’t mess around. It’s the literary equivalent of having the information punched into your head. And it’s all priceless advice based on Graham’s extensive experience on his hind legs working audiences and knocking some of the very biggest hitters of the business and political worlds into shape. It’s also very funny. You’ll laugh as you learn.
I asked Graham why he had written the book. He explained: “I wrote the book because it was time that I put my pen where my mouth was. Although I have always had a great client list, so has everyone else. But very few presentation consultants have written a book which summarises their core ideas in an accessible and entertaining way. I certainly wasn’t worried about giving any ‘secrets’ away. When old clients have read the book, they have sprinted back to me for even more advice.
“The style of the book is blunt and challenging to the point of occasionally being confrontational. You may not like all of it, but it will certainly make you think. And sometimes make you laugh.
“The book gives you a process for creating and delivering persuasive words. It’s a process that can be adapted to a huge variety of situations. You can use the techniques in addressing a conference hall packed with thousands of political activists…. or you can use them to persuade a charmless airline employee to give you an upgrade. Essentially, if you ever want to make an individual or a group of individuals alter their point of view, simply by talking to them, then this is the book for you.”
I then asked Graham how we should read the book. “You should certainly read the first 7 chapters in sequence. This is where I show you the ‘Preparation Pipeline’ and it does indeed flow from chapter to chapter. After I have dealt with the addictive horrors of PowerPoint Prozac in Chapter 8, the emphasis moves towards delivery techniques in a variety of situations. This means that you can dip into chapters 9 to 16 depending on the particular challenge you have to face.”
I read the book in one sitting, cover to cover. It’s a while since I’ve done that. It’s no surprise to me that The Presentation Coach is currently the top-selling presentation book in the UK.
Just in case you need them, here are a few more recommendations:
“Graham Davies is a brilliantly funny speaker who knows how to inspire and enthuse anyone who sees presenting as a bore, a burden or a source of terror.”
Nick Robinson, Political Editor, BBC
“This book really captures Graham’s intense and robust sense of coaching. Just like the author, it is amusing, punchy and really comforting to have access to in all presentation situations.”
Michel Combes, CEO,Vodafone Europe