This community is the Guru. We want to help our readers build their skills as presentation designers, speakers and coaches, learning from a wide range of our colleagues from across the world. In this unique series, The Guru’s Big Five Questions, we have asked 30 of the best minds in the world of presentations the same five questions about their inspiration, their hopes and their role models in the ever-changing arena of world-class presenting. Today our regular contributor, Simon Morton, shares his thoughts.
Simon founded presentation design company Eyeful Presentations in 2004. His goal was big but simple – support businesses to create more powerful, engaging and effective presentations that make the most of opportunities and deliver results. 12 years, thousands of presentations and millions of engaged audience members later, Eyeful’s mission continues. He is the author of The Presentation Lab and is globally recognised as a thought leader in the field of presentations.
What’s the greatest speech in history and why?
Barack Obama gets my vote as the greatest political orator of the last decade. Politicians struggle to ‘do’ sincerity or humility but Obama delivered on both fronts while retaining statesmanlike control – a tricky balance. He also understood the value of story, as brilliantly demonstrated in his ‘Fired up, ready to go’ speech. A class act…
What’s the greatest business presentation / sales pitch and why?
While it’s tempting to point to Jobs or Branson for inspiration, remember that most truly great sales pitches are only ever seen by a small select group of people.
I recall our company supporting a pitch to part of the British NHS (National Health Service). The stand out moment wasn’t the carefully rehearsed presenter or the beautifully crafted slides but when an ex-addict patient stood up and told the story of how our client’s support, insight and passion had turned her life around. It was powerful, engaging and ‘real’…and demonstrated the impact of the service like nothing else.
Who is the best political / cause orator today and why?
I love watching Sir Ken Robinson speak for a number of reasons – his passion for education is infectious, the meticulous planning and structure of his argument, how he uses self-deprecation to pull in an audience and his wonderful use of stories and proof points. A great presenter who never forgets the power of a simple message.
What’s the one most important thing that anyone making a speech should do more than anything else?
Audience, audience, audience! They are the most important stakeholder in any presentation – ignore them and their reason for attending at your peril.
Who inspired you starting out in the business? Who inspires you now?
In the early days, the ‘rock stars’ of our industry (Garr Reynolds, Nancy Duarte, Cliff Atkinson) provided both inspiration and, on occasion, invaluable one-on-one support (we’re lucky – ours is a very supportive industry). These days, I’m equally excited and inspired by the bigger picture ideas shared by Simon Sinek, Daniel Pink and Seth Godin.