Recommended Reading to Boost Your Presentation IQ

By April 12, 2012March 30th, 2020Book Reviews

Recently, a client expressed anxiety about presenting. She said she always over-prepared, obsessing for weeks in advance, losing sleep and repeatedly rehashing what she wanted to say and do.

I asked her, “When do you know your presentation is good enough?”

She responded, “Good enough to do what?”

Her question led me to read TJ Walker’s two excellent books, How to Give a Pretty Good Presentation and TJ Walker’s Secret to Foolproof Presentations.

Walker writes in a quick, easy-to-read, conversational manner with no pretense — his knowledge and experience can help catapult any presentation from boring to bravo. I shared these books with my client and recommend them to you.


How to Give a Pretty Good Presentation

In today’s extreme business environment, you have to balance time and performance. So the challenge becomes, how can you be “good enough” to impact business results?

According to Walker, as long as you find a way to have an impact, you don’t need to be a rock star. Walker’s step-by-step advice can help almost anyone write, rehearse and deliver presentations that he calls “pretty good” — which means good enough to make a difference.

After reading this book, my client pointed to one helpful tip in particular. Walker says it’s important to select a single idea to convey to your audience and to focus your presentation on that message. That helped my client after she was promoted to vice president and, with 30 minutes’ notice, had to address a group in her new role.

She followed Walker’s advice, spoke with confidence and earned a high level of credibility with her peers.


TJ Walker’s Secret to Foolproof Presentations

Using a snappy Q&A format, Walker answers just about every question you’ve ever had — but were afraid to ask — about giving a presentation. Each answer is given in a clear, direct way; each suggestion is easy to understand and easy to implement.

One of Walker’s best pieces of advice is to keep it real and be yourself. As he points out, polished and professional may mean that you are suddenly just like every other presenter. Walker says, “Doing what everyone else is doing is playing it safe. . . . You must do something, anything, in order to get people to leave your presentation with a positive impression of you and your ideas.”

Walker also offers excellent advice about using PowerPoint. He suggests that you create two separate PowerPoint decks:

  • a streamlined, highly visual version to project on-screen, and
  • a more detailed version with all of your text, data and charts that can be used as a handout or email follow-up.

Both these titles are worthy additions to your bookshelf. Take a look, and you’ll find they are must-have resources that will help you be confident, heard and inspiring whenever you step up to speak.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Thank you. I am glad to know you find the articles useful to you and your business.

  • Thank you again for your comments, they made me stop and reflect and it was fun “conversing” with you!

  • Totally agree with you here! And I also like Walker’s suggestion to have two slide decks, an image driven presentation version and a text/print version with notes. All too often people attempt to use one deck for both the projected presentation and the handouts or forget that there is a “notes view” for adding notes for handouts.

  • Hi Marshall,

    Thank you for your comment and I agree!

    I to believe that you have to be at your very best whenever you present. . . that means clarifying your message, organization your content so it is easily understood, developing media that supports and enhances your message and delivering the message with confidence and connect with your audience. Perhaps it wasn’t clear in the article, to me “good enough” translates to be delivering a presentation that achieves results. However, in my 25+ years as a presentation consultant I have worked with presenters who have invested the time and energy to succeed but obsess to the point of becoming counter-productive. It is in those presenters that need to step back, recognize they are prepared and confidently acknowledge that they are GOOD ENOUGH to step into prime time.

    A recent blog I posted entitled, “Using Glance & Grab to Perk Up Your PowerPoint” discusses the importance of visuals being engaging and supporting the message. What I found interesting was Walker’s suggestion to have two slide decks, one that is audience friendly (good looking visual that is more image-driven Vs. dense text) and a second deck that is just for the speaker (with the necessary information / notes that may be needed).

    The goal is to be confident, heard and inspiring every time you step up to speak, whether it is a main stage presentation, product launch, investor / analyst meeting, or if you are raising your hand to ask a question or make a comment — these days what you have to say and how you say it can be a game-changer.

    So, please don’t think good enough means slacking off, good enough means taking the time and making the effort to be good enough to make a difference!

  • Sorry Stephanie, but I disagree with the “Give a Pretty Good Presentation” concept. In today’s competitive environment, you need to be the best you can be. You may only have one chance to have an impact and get the results you need from a presentation. Yes it can be stressful, but let that stress drive the energy to practice and practice again -until you are so practiced and confident that you look so natural as if your are a pro, and you don’t ever need to practice. As for visuals – remember that your audienc spends half their life in front of a screen of some size these days, you had better have some good looking visuals projected that assist in keeping your audiences attention and communicating important messages. I deal with presenters every day and yes, the stress level seems to be at an all time high – because the stakes are higher than ever. All the more reason to practice one more time and spend a few more hours tweaking the PowerPoint so it delivers and does not distract. Today, “good enuf” is not good enough – you need to be the BEST.