Book Review: The Presenter’s Edge 2nd edition by Gavin Meikle (ISBN 978-7872-3027-9)

Public speaking in any guise can be fraught with anxiety and stress. Yet, with a little care, planning and attention to the detail it can become a skill we all acquire and can be honed to a high standard quite easily. This little book goes a long way to guiding you through the process from concept to conclusion of the Q&A at the end.

Gavin Meikle

The Presenter’s Edge – How to Unlock Your Inner Speaker

We’ve all been there, needed to get a message across and messed it up. What I love about The Presenter’s Edge by Gavin Meikle is that you can start at the beginning and work your way through, systematically creating your presentation as you go, or dip in and sort out an existing presentation that you are working on. Left to me – I’d start at the beginning and use this book to craft a great presentation from the initial planning right through to handling questions after presenting pearls of wisdom to its audience. The book is the distilled essence of what counts, focussed, to the point and without space filling verbiage.

Gavin describes his work as a “bite size book” and promises us more on what gestures to use and the stagecraft of presenting. I look forward to those as I believe they will really help those of us who struggle with presentations to hone our skills further.  In his introduction Gavin talks about “a much needed revolution to transform the way people around the world communicate.” If you have ever survived death by PowerPoint you will know what he is referring to and be desperate to avoid it in your own presentations! The solution is here in Gavin’s bite size book.

A presentation like a good story needs to flow; it needs a beginning, a middle and an end. In the book these are described as an Opening (get them hooked in for more with an understanding of where you are taking them), the Body (the important stuff) and a Conclusion (wrap it up drawing the important points together, to close).

I noted the author’s use of “threes” several times along the way and they do help us stay focussed on the important points. From the initial thinking about a presentation (content, structure and delivery); to doing the research and really getting to grips with your subject (think, feel, do); to scripting in chapter 4 (ethos, pathos and logos); to delivering skills (visual, vocal and verbal) and rehearsal strategies (audience, presenter, neutral observer).  And, yes, you do need to rehearse (to an audience, alone to yourself and in your head).

Other important subjects covered include the use of visual aids (I learnt this as KISS – keep it simple stupid – but what does that mean in visual aids for a presentation?), the words to use, a challenge about avoiding jargon (I am sure we have all tripped up on that one) and how to tackle nerves. On the nerves issue I learned many years ago that our nervous response is caused by the same hormones that make us feel excited. So it is a matter of interpretation as to whether we are nervous or excited (I dare you – you choose!). If you are desperately short of time and don’t know where to start – go to page 87, Chapter 14 “Let’s Recap” and choose the bit that concerns you most and dive in there.

By preparing our presentation thoroughly, using the systematic method set out by the author we can train the butterflies to fly in formation, and ensure that the formation is tight and targeted. We may even enjoy the process and feel in control during it and accomplished at the end.

You can obtain your copy of this book here

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