Thursday, February 19, 2009

Book review - Timothy Koegel: The Exceptional Presenter

At Learn to Write Proposals we like books that not only present high-quality, in-depth content but which are easily digestible and I don't think that we're alone with this. After all, how many busy business people really read every word of a business-related book? Not many, most of the time, we look through the books to try and find that snippet of information that we need quickly and find practical enough to be able to use it immediately. 

We also like books that don't just say "this is the way it should be done" but actually give you the techniques and strategies to get there.

This is what I like about "Triggers " (Joe Sugarman) and it's what I like about "The Exceptional Presenter" by Timothy Koegel. Koegel is a presentation and media consultant from Washington and he states that his mission with The Exceptional Presenter is to "take the mystery and the misery out of presenting".

OK - this is not a book on how to write a business proposal, but presenting is such an important part of the proposal and business development process. It's more thatn just writing a sales document. You probably do presentations before you even write a proposal when you visit clients...good presentations at thisstage of the process lead to better informed, beneficial customer relationships and these relationships will make your account management and capture planning. So let's not lose the importance of a good presentation.

It's often said that people find public speaking the scariest thing in their life - and there are many people who actively avoid it. Koegel wants to not only de-mystify the process that some find magical...he challenges you early on in the book to think of two exceptional presenters and think of what characteristics they had that made them exceptional. It's the start of the process of breaking down what exceptional presenters do, analysing the skills used learning a systematic approach to the skills. 

The book is part guide, part workbook - Koegel states an aim to help you develop a presentation style that is organised, passionate,engaging and natural - and the book's approach certainly helps you do that. Interestingly the longest chapter of the book is the chapter on being passionate, perhaps because Koegel's research amongst business professionals has found that the no.1 characteristic of exceptional presenters is passion. 

This section is fascinating and really encourages some self-reflection as Koegel dissects posture and body language before even getting round to the voice. He challenges you with different questions and exercises as well as offers tips and advice, such as about presenting behind podiums and using microphones. Some are simple lists...I'll throw in one list for you that anyone can benefit from straight away - "Five tips to appear relaxed,confident and professional": 

1. Stand tall - don't sway, rock, shuffle or lean
2. Keep your head and eyes up. Connect with your audience
3. Smile. A sincere smile warms up the coldest situations
4. Never retreat
5. Move with purpose, energy and enthusiasm 

The advice given is good and takes you through every aspect of a presentation, but what makes this book stand out is the way that it gets you doing it. The last section of the book is full of presentation sheets, designed to get you planning, practicing and reviewing your presentations and goals. Some of these forms can be downloaded from Koegels webpage ( 

There's a great quote too from Tom Peters that sums this book up. He says: 

"...there was one enormous point Koegel makes that is ever-so-obvious ... except that I've never seen it made with such impact and clarity. Are you breathless with anticipation? Well, you should be. Here goes:"Those who practice improve. Those who don't, don't." 

It's a good point, professional sports people and musicians practice to reach a standard, yet how often to business people practice important, even core skills? 

As someone who has regularly given sales presentations, speeches and seminars as part of my daily job I can safely say that "The Exceptional Presenter" hits all the points it needs to and I'm sure that anyone, new to presenting or experienced will benefit from the knowledge and practical advice it contains. 

Buy The Exceptional Presenter now from Amazon