Insider Exclusive: Mastering the Art of Public Presentations

Insider Exclusive: Mastering the Art of Public Presentations

 By: A.C. Chan

Getting on stage to deliver a TEDx Talk is no easy feat. It’s not your average presentation or report during which you’re just dispensing information. Rather, it’s an opportunity to put forth an idea worth sharing.

I’ve worked with many professionals on their presentations, ranging from investment pitches to executive keynotes, and there were some interesting observations that I had during the process of crafting a TEDx Talk. When the stakes are high, you have to be poised, polished, and precise.

I had the privilege of working with Jasmine Crowe, CEO of GoodrCo. on her TEDx Talk. Her big idea was to use leftover food from restaurants to feed hungry people. As a software startup company, she was well-versed in pitching. However, weaving a great story was not yet in her toolbox.

Out of the gate, there were two important things we had to address that impacted crafting what she wanted to communicate and how to say it. First, she had to understand her target audience. Anyone could be in the TEDx audience, ranging from students to professionals to influential community members. With that in mind, the choice in vocabulary had to be broadened and not so business-centric. Second, the call to action was completely different. When pitching to investors, the typical desired outcome is to get funding. For a TEDx Talk, it’s to inspire the audience with an infectious idea that it wants to share or to drive an individual toward a specific action.

Visual aids come in a variety of flavors, from props to costumes. In today’s business environment, the go-to presentation tools are PowerPoint or Keynote. The challenge is that many forget that they’re supposed to be aids to the presentation, or a way to better illustrate their points. In the worst-case scenario, it becomes a show where the audience watches your slides and you are just the voice-over.

To avoid this trap with the TEDx audience, we employed tactics such as using a minimal amount of text on slides, using images to convey points, and minimizing the total number of slides in the deck. From my own experiences, it is important to assume, above all, that your tech is going to fail. That means your presentation should work just as well without slides. If you’ve noticed, the vast majority of TEDx Talks do not use slides. What does that tell you?

The last leg of the stool was the delivery of Crowe’s TEDx Talk. The most important part of delivery is the practice. I’ve observed that many people spend most of their time preparing. I advise that you spend an equal amount of time practicing as you do preparing. So, if you’ve spent two hours putting together that 15-minute presentation, you should practice delivering that presentation at least eight times. The content for Crowe’s TEDx Talk was locked down a month before the event. And she practiced her TEDx Talk every day, sometimes even two or three times per day, which enabled her to have a great delivery.

In the travel industry, it’s not simply about selling services; it’s about the experiences you create. You are trying to communicate and connect with people. At ABA’s Marketplace in Louisville, Ky., in January, I’ll be facilitating three workshops about networking, crafting presentation slides, and storytelling. I hope you’ll join me for these hands-on experiences!

 A.C. Chan is founder and president of Power Slide LLC and will be sharing his expertise on creating poised, polished, and precise presentations at ABA’s 2019 Marketplace. To learn more, visit

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