Q&A with Presentation Delivery Skills Expert Carey Bradshaw
Creative Butter, Workshop and One-on-One Coach for C-Suite Execs, Nonprofits, and Start-ups in Presentation Delivery Skills
Bringing the Secret Sauce to Presentation Delivery Carey Bradshaw is president and co-founder of Creative Butter, a marketing agency that brings on the “secret sauce.” Among many other hats, she’s on a mission to eradicate bad PowerPoint by coaching executives on presentation delivery skills.
Q: You work with C-levels, nonprofits, and start-ups to perfect their pitches to VCs and angel investors. Those are pretty important moments. What are the risks for executives who deliver average to awful presentations?
CB: Loss of credibility, for one thing. And it’s not just about the physical presentation deck. How you say it is just (if not more) important than what you are saying. Having a poor deck is bad, but it can be overcome with a stellar presentation style. Unfortunately, I rarely see this. It’s all too common for presenters to rely too heavily on their deck or (gasp!) notes. By the way, notes are strictly verboten when presenting in my coaching sessions.
Q: There are so many ways presentations can go wrong. What mistakes do you frequently see?
CB: Too many to count! Death by PowerPoint is a big one. There’s nothing worse than watching a presenter read slides to the audience. Usually this also involves lots of text or graphs that are too small for the audience to read. Another pet peeve is when presenters go crazy with transitions and fly-ins.
Q: Content overload just seems to be getting worse, in spite of it being an acknowledged bad presentation practice. How do you convince people not to cram so much into their slides?
CB: I abide by the 5×5 rule—no more than five bullets per slide and no more than five words per bullet. There are lots of versions of this rule, but I find that this allows enough information to impart the meaning of the slide, while not overwhelming the audience. A well-chosen graphic with a few words, combined with eye contact, confidence, and a rehearsed message, are much more impactful than watching someone read their notes to the room.
Q: How do you evaluate a client before you start working with them?
CB: I have to see a commitment to the process. I tend to work with executives, and I cover the process and time commitment in the initial meeting with them. Presenting in public is a huge fear for so many people. I like to think my process is a fun and effective way to overcome any fears or bad habits to become a more effective, credible, and authentic presenter.
Q: What does a good coaching process look like?
CB: With me, there’s homework involved, and I really push clients out of their comfort zones. I use a number of tools and activities, and many are uncomfortable for executives. I’ve been known to use everything from improv to children’s books to move people away from their habits into becoming effective presenters. I am a big fan of TED Talks and use them often as examples.
Connect with Carey at: linkedin.com/in/careybradshaw
Read Carey’s blogs at: creativebutter.com/blog