008: Paul Tomes - On Avoiding Presentation Karaoke

Paul Tomes - presentation guru from South Africa - joined me in a conversation about how we present in a conversational - and essentially human - way. Paul is an incredibly skilled presentation coach who shared several powerful stories about real transformation—sharing the very best of what we can do. Paul writes/podcasts at Freshly Squeezed Presentations and works at Pitch - a firm focused on telling stories that move people.

Can I just say?  It's so amazing to "meet" someone from across the globe who shares so much of your point of view.  It's a small, lovely world, isn't it?

Where did your work begin?

Paul started by creating "slides" (35 millimeter!) - starting a computer graphics company creating great slides.  What he quickly realized was that though he was handing people beautiful slides, it didn't mean they had the skills to deliver those slides well.  He wanted to help people avoid becoming "wooden characters" - aka, "presentation karaoke."  That was in 1986, and thousands of people later - here he is!

(This is where Sally realizes she is talking to THE expert. Whoa, and Yay!)

Presentation Karaoke isn't... Conversational.

For many, it's about undoing the habits of a lifetime, when students are taught all the "rules" about speaking, and they carry those through to adulthood. One of the barriers to changing someone's style to more conversational is to give people permission to be more childlike and "lighthearted." It's much more pleasant to listen to!

Technique Tip from Paul:

Imagine that you're briefing a group of colleagues, instead of "presenting."  Invariably, they find they are delivering a great presentation... vs. "rehearsal mode" - where people tend to stiffen up.

Favorite coaching moment:

A beautiful story about Paul helping one of his clients who happened to have a stutter to deliver a 3-minute speech that was a hugely important, personally transformative moment.

(This is where Sally realizes she's talking to the modern day King's Speech guy! Whoa, and cool!)

Audience Thought Model:

 Stop presenting information the way YOU want to present it, and instead present it the way your audience wants to hear it. In some ways you have to "earn the right to offer the solution."

Most common piece of advice Paul gives to his speakers:

Let go of trying to do a presentation and instead focus on having a conversation, and telling a story.

Peter Gruber said something like, "If people can imagine themselves in your story, you don't have to sell them anything, it will sell themselves."



Movie -Joyeux Noel, about the Christmas Truce during World War I.


A Peace of My Mind  - a project by John Noltner - photographer, journalist, podcaster.  Beautiful exhibit about what "peace" means to various people. [I just completed an interview by John, which will publish on Christmas Eve! Keep your eyes peeled for that.]


To learn more about Paul, you can check out his various websites, including:

Freshly Squeezed Presentations:  http://paultomes.co.za/

Pitch - Tell a Story that Moves People:  http://www.pitch.co.za/home.html

And here's where you can listen to his latest podcast: http://paultomes.co.za/?cat=16