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Business Presentation for Leaders

Kellogg’s Prof Tim Calkins offers a comprehensive guide to the science and art of delivering great presentations

 

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Implementation may be the key to a successful strategy, but presentation is the critical first step. Unless a new business idea or strategy can be clearly and engagingly presented to colleagues, customers, or investors it won’t get past first base. What’s more winning presentations are needed throughout the life cycle of an effective strategy.

In his new book, How to Wash a Chicken: Mastering Business Presentation, Kellogg School of Management’s Professor Tim Calkins addresses the sorry case that too many business people struggle to present well. Armed with ‘big data’ and a slide presentation they tend to think business presentation is easy and treat it as an afterthought. Whereas, delivering a standout presentation is more difficult than ever in our competitive, information saturated, world and an essential leadership skill.

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Professor Tim Calkins teaches on Kellogg School of Management, North Western University’s Strategic Marketing Communications in the Digital Age

Dates: May 13-17 and Nov 18-22, 2019 

Format: In-class study │Location: Evanston, Illinois

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Winston Churchill mastered his great skill as an orator thorough studying the techniques of past practitioners and by putting intense preparation into his speeches. Without aiming to be a world-class statesman or woman, executives should at least realise that presenting is an essential skill and a skill that can be learned.

Churchill learned from Macaulay and Gibbon and above all from New York Congressman Bourke Cockran. Tim Calkins, himself a master presenter, is perhaps a better tutor for our times. Winning a presentation competition at the age of eight, in league with an uncooperative chicken (hence the title of his book), he has since gone on to deliver over 5000 presentations and to become one of the world’s leading marketing consultants and teachers.

Calkins takes the reader through a journey: Starting with timing if and when to make a presentation; then clarifying its real purpose; understanding the audience; and then the all-important stage of developing the story – here he quotes Churchill “The foundations have to be laid, the data assembled, and the premises must bear the weight of the conclusions.” The journey continues with chapters on: Creating simple pages; preselling; preparation and practice; setting the room; presenting with confidence; managing questions; and following up.

‘Presenting with confidence’ will grab the attention of those of us who are frankly terrified by the idea of presenting to an audience. Calkins’s technical advice is key to preparing a presentation we can feel confident about; but what about our nerves? What if we are so stressed we clam up? Should we learn the presentation by heart to recite it? Calkins’s central point here is that stage-fright and nervousness are natural. Fear is the body’s way to motivate us. Nerves help us create the energy we need to do a good job. And no, we shouldn’t learn the script.

The book contains reams of valuable advice on areas such as: How to start a presentation; how to use data; page design; using active language; why not to emulate TED talks or Steve Jobs; and focusing on the preparation rather than the event itself.

Churchill wasn’t a natural orator. His voice was raspy. A stammer often marred his speech. But he took his trade, of which presentation was a core part, very seriously. Today’s leaders should do the same.

How to Wash a Chicken: Mastering the Business Presentation; Tim Calkins; published by Page Two Books, 2018; ISBN 978-1-98902503-1


The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is recognized globally as a pioneer in general management education that offers innovative academic opportunities for today’s leading thinkers



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