4 Presentation Tips I Learned from Guy Kawasaki

One of the benefits of attending trade shows and conferences is that we get to hear world class speakers. Last week, during our annual produce convention, I had the opportunity to hear marketing legend Guy Kawasaki speak for the second time, talking about “The Art of Innovation.” The talk was an adaptation of his original TedxBerkeley 2014 speech. The first time I saw him was a few years ago at a Global Executive Conference through my Vistage CEO group.

Guy’s life has been amazing. One of the first employees of Apple, he, in fact, calls himself the “Chief Macintosh Evangelist.” He worked alongside Steve Jobs for most of his career and admits that Jobs was one of the most brilliant people on the planet, and yet, was almost impossible to work with. I guess being brilliant has its privileges.

Guy had many anecdotes and pointers about success and I’d like to share a few of them.

1. Clean Up Your PowerPoint

First off, in both presentations, his PowerPoint slides had a black background with very few words in white letters on each slide. He confidently tells everyone early in his presentation to imitate his style. He said it is THE most effective way to use PowerPoint. How many times have you watched a presentation which contains tons of copy and data on every slide, making it is mostly illegible and hard to comprehend? And then the speaker reads the slides. Really? Don’t you think we can read? Well, perhaps not, since the font is so small and there is so much text. To this, Guy says: few words, big print. Perfection is 10 slides, 20 minutes, and a 30-point font.

2. Keep It Tight & Go by Number

Guy started both presentations with the same message: his goal is NOT to “go long and suck.” He says, “go long” is overstaying your welcome on stage, and “to suck” is providing bad content. So, Guy’s secret formula is to always number his content. For example: the Top 10 keys to success. If you number your content, your audience knows where you are.

3. Share Your Content

Don’t be afraid to share your content. In fact, I wanted to confirm my notes from his talk last week, so I Googled “Guy Kawasaki presentations” and found his SlideShare. I was actually able to view his presentation! Of course, it is the anecdotes and his affable style that make his presentations so meaningful, but feel free to look at the presentation he gave last week here.

4. It’s a Conversation, Not a Lecture

Guy’s presentation was followed by Mike Walsh, a futurist and leading authority on the digital future. What they both had in common was their positive aura. They both smiled a lot and were extremely comfortable with themselves. It didn’t feel like they were lecturing us. I’ve heard many professional presentations and oftentimes I feel like I am being lectured to. I realize most speakers are experts in their field and they likely know more than I do. But these two speakers epitomized inspiration and sharing. Their presentation styles were as interesting as their topics.

I hope you’ll make time to check out Guy Kawasaki’s presentations or find one of his books that piques your interest.

Sometimes I am asked how I stay ahead of trends, come up with new ideas, or continue to find inspiration. One of my keys to success is that at least once or twice a year I make sure to attend a conference where I’ll hear a world class speaker. I want to be challenged. I want to learn what the greatest minds are thinking about. It doesn’t always have to be about produce or about business. Taking time to check out of the rat race, and making time for my brain to just absorb and think, keeps me fresh.

Sorry to cut this short, but I need to run off to hear a lunch panel of five CEOs of disruptive companies talk about what inspires them.