Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Creating Better Presentations


This post was drawn from the teachings contained in Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer Sell Like a Superstar by John Jantsch

I’m sure you’ve probably sat through a number of really bad presentations, so the ultimate goal is not to be one of them. Laziness is usually the culprit behind bad presentations.  It takes some real strategy to create a great presentation, but well worth it because you want your audience to walk away having positive feedback, not feeling that they just wasted their time and money.

It’s very helpful to think, what is it that you want your audience to walk away with? Do you want them to be entertained or do you want them to understand a once complicated topic? Figuring out this goal and getting clear with your mission will help you give a successful presentation.

Start in Analog

Make sticky notes and a big white board your friend before you jump the gun and start creating slides.  Outline the entire map of your presentation- move things around and rearrange the order of things before you commit to putting it in presentation software.

What’s the Journey?

 People need to believe they can use the information you give them, otherwise it won’t matter how good the presentation is.  A great presentation takes the audience to a whole new world; it opens the floodgates of new knowledge and new perspectives. Most people come to hear someone speak because they are seeking a solution to a problem or want to be shown a new way of doing something. So you need to win them over and lead them along the way. This is why great presentations end with a logical call to action.

Tell your story

 Who doesn’t like a good movie? Great presentations have a lot in common with great cinema in the storytelling aspect. You want to keep your audience engaged and a great way to do that is by storytelling. Telling stories moves people and makes them want to adopt your point of view. The audience will have more of a personal connection to you if you present your information in a narrative format. It’s ultimately more interesting than just hearing statistics and it’s easier to digest.

Less is more

 Use your slides to help your audience remember key points. You want your slides to be one word or show images that reinforce the point you are trying to make, not teach it from scratch in that moment. Use you slides as a partner tool, not a crutch. Also, remember to practice with your slides so that your presentation is a well-oiled machine by the time you get up to the podium.

Book recommendations

 I firmly believe that you should read these two books if you are going to be a presenter.  Resonate and Slideolgy, both by Nancy Duarte, are fantastic at giving the necessary steps one needs to be an effective presenter. She gives tools that will help you craft and present your ideas that will help make your message matter.

Virtual Speaking

 Giving a presentation these days can mean that you are doing so virtually. You don’t have to be in a big board room or auditorium, you can be looking right into your computer’s camera and giving an effective webinar that has very big benefits.

 MeetingBurner, GotToWebinar, or AnyMeeting are services you can use that can have as many as 1,000 people participating as audience members. Although being in person has its pluses, many people find that giving presentations virtually has a high degree of success as well. Sometimes, people like being in the comforts of their own office or home, without having to leave to attend a presentation in person.

 Being a presenter is more than just standing in front of a room spouting out facts and figures.  You need to really draw the audience in and give them something to take away that they can implement right now.  Use these tips for your next presentation and see the difference it makes.


John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. His latest book, Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar is available online and in bookstores May 15.

How To Drive Quality Referrals

Last week I had lunch with the president and the director of “communication and exploration” of one of the most interesting and impressive companies I have ever encountered. The name of the firm is ThemeWorks and they design and create absolutely incredible, innovative and highly accurate “themed fabrications” for museums, theme parks, zoos and other attractions. In other words, they build really cool shit! (Go look at their website and you will see what I mean – these people are amazing artists: click here).

After spending some time discussing the mind-blowing projects I had the chance to look at in their studio, the conversation turned to how to grow the company and expand its reach into new markets (such as designing and creating themed environments for large corporations who do multiple trade shows every year) . Like many companies, ThemeWorks had grown from a few friends working out of an apartment into a large and highly successful organization based almost 100% on: word-of-mouth referrals.

As Scott, the president and founder of the company put it, “I just figured if we did really, really fantastic work and treated our customers great, they would continue to give us their business and tell all their friends about us.” And they did! And the company grew and grew!! But what I told Scott is that in order to take it to the next level you cannot simply “hope” that exceedingly happy customers will continue to drive new business and new customers to your door – you must become proactive in helping your very satisfied customers actively send you highly qualified new customers through a system and process of generating large numbers of superb referrals.

Let me use myself as an example. For the first 15 years of my career as a corporate trainer, professional speaker and executive coach I figured that if I just did 10 times more work than my peers, came in early and stayed late, sweated every single detail and dedicated myself to adding more value and being more customer focused than any other person in my industry… everything would work out fine. And it did! My very happy customers referred me to lots of other great customers and kept me just about as busy as I could possibly handle for more than a decade. But in the last few years even my best customers have had to cut back on their training and events budgets and I found myself, for the very first time in my career, in the position of having to actively pursue new clients and ask for referrals. It was then that I ran across the work of John Jantsch and his wonderful book “The Referral Engine” and attended one of his seminars where he helped me understand that building a steady stream of excellent referrals must become a strategic objective of your firm with a process to ensure that it is flawlessly executed.

I told Scott that what I have learned was instead of totally busting my butt to make sure I delivered far beyond the customer’s expectations and then “hoping” that I would get some good referrals, I now set a clear expectation with my clients before I deliver my program by saying to them… If I deliver program that significantly exceeds your expectations, and I get the highest scores possible from the attendees of my speech, I am going to ask you to promise to send a personal letter of referral to at least 20 of your peers and strongly encourage them to do business with me.” Because I share this expectation at the beginning of the relationship, before I have delivered any training or speeches, and tell them that I am only asking for a referral if I 100% earn it by doing a world-class job… the client is typically very accommodating and will happily agree to the deal. It is then incumbent upon me to spend every waking moment to make sure that I deliver on all of my promises and clearly exceed their expectations. If I do that (which is what I strive to do every time I step in front of an audience), I now have a client who has made a personal promise to send 20 very enthusiastic referrals to their top clients and colleagues. Wow – talk about a referral engine! Imagine if every one of your top customers sent 20 strong referral notes for you next month – there is no doubt that it would have a huge positive  impact on your business.

So Here Is The Lesson: for many, many companies 85% or more of their new business comes directly from word-of-mouth referrals (for me it is 99%) – therefore if you want to generate the most quality referrals possible it is critical that you change from a reactive stance of “hoping” that your clients will send you referrals – to a more proactive stance that sets the upfront expectation of:  “If I absolutely deliver superior quality and value to you Mr. or Ms. Client, I am going to expect you to send out 20 or more superb personal referrals to key clients that you feel would truly value the kind of work I just delivered for you.”

Important Question: Have you created such a referral process to ensure that your customers actively refer you to highly qualified potential new customers?

Most Important Question: If you are one of my clients (or just somebody who really likes the work I do) have you sent the 20 wildly enthusiastic referral notes on my behalf yet?????

I hope you found this post helpful, I look forward to your questions, comments, concerns, feedback and… referrals. Have a fantastic day – John Spence

Some Book Recommendations


The books I have recomended in this podcast are:

NOBLE ENTERPRISE: The Commonsense Guide to Uplifting People and Profits

The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization

Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself

The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World

Small Changes That Help Small Companies Make Big Increases in Sales

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

I hope that you found these book recommendations helpful — if you have some books you think I should read, please let me know!