I just finished reading Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's new book entitled "Delivering Happiness: A path to profits, passion, and purpose." Look for my review of "Delivering Happiness" on June 7th (official launch day).
However, I came across a few pages of his book that I simply couldn't wait to share with my readers.
Because of Tony and Zappos' success, Tony is often asked to speak at major events and conferences. I was happy to see that Tony dedicated a short section to his experiences as a presenter and public speaker - right up my alley!
Like many people, Tony had no formal presentation training and the month leading up to his first presentation Tony spent many days and nights memorizing his speech (not the best way to prepare). As more speaking requests came in, Tony accepted most and dreaded them all. Memorizing his speeches was such an arduous task that it made speaking no fun. Not only that, the execution was very difficult because one mess up and his presentation would come to a screeching halt.
I often write about the importance of preparation to ensure you execute properly during your presentation, but memorizing and preparing are not synonymous. Memorizing is not scalable - meaning that even if you succeed, you can't do it for every presentation. Not only that but the result is a rigid, robotic delivery with no room for error.
Being the bright guy that he is, Tony realized this and changed course.
I decided not to memorize or reharse anything. I would just wing it and see what happened. I knew I had a lot of stories I could choose from on the fly to tell, and I knew that as long as I stuck to topics I was passionate and knowledgable about - customer service and company culture - that I would have plenty of material to draw from to fill the time.
I thought this was a wonderful quote, but you have to understand the context because "winging it" is never a suggested practice - at least not from me. The difference was that Tony only took speaking engagements where he could speak about a topic that he knew inside and out - the Zappos culture. Not only was he knowledgeable, but incredibly passionate. We don't all have the luxury of presenting on topics we're passionate and completely knowledgeable about, but the storytelling aspect of presenting allows you to relate your topic to something you are passionate about.
Ultimately Tony has three rules for his presentations:
- Be passionate
- Be real
- Tell personal stories
When you break presenting down into its simplest form, I think these three rules are definitely pillars of effective presenting. If you aren't passionate or real, the audience will see right through you. You may be able to succeed without telling personal stories in your presentation, but you're missing a huge opportunity to engage the audience.
If you'd like to get an advance copy of Tony's book, visit the Delivering Happiness site.
Image (CC) Brian Solis. www.briansolis.com.