What Great Presenters And Great Decorators Have In Common

I was talking to a friend the other day about the number of presentations I’ve got coming up. I’ve got to give 5 talks over the next few weeks and I said that this meant I was really busy because, typically, a new presentation of, say, an hour will take me about 4 – 5 full days to put together. That doesn’t necessarily include rehearsal time either.

My friend was surprised. He said, “I thought, by now, you would have got a lot quicker at preparing talks, since you’ve been doing them for so long.” (Yes, thanks for pointing that out.)

I thought about this and I realised that, if anything, it’s taking me longer these days to prepare than it used to. And, at first, I thought, “Maybe he’s right, maybe I should be getting quicker.” But then I realised that taking so long to prepare isn’t really a bad thing.

In fact, it reminded me of the decorator we hired to do some painting when we moved into our house a couple of years ago. He did a brilliant job – but it took him a very long time to get around to painting anything.

I work from home but I tried to keep out of his way while he was working. Occasionally, though, I would peek in to see how things were going. And I was a bit concerned to find that, for several days, there was no sign of a paintbrush. I started to think, “When is he actually going to start painting?”

Of course, I should have realised – what was he doing all this time?


He was meticulous. He carefully stripped off every trace of old paint. He filled in every tiny hole or crack. He sanded all the surfaces, not once but several times. Even when it looked perfect to me, he wasn’t satisfied. He gave it one more rub down just to make sure.

Then, when he finally came to put the paint on, it looked fabulous!

I realised that what made him such a great decorator was not the way he painted. It was the way he prepared. The preparation was what made the painting so outstanding.

And the preparation is exactly what separated him from me in terms of decorating.

If I had done that job myself, I would never have done half the preparation he did. I wouldn’t have had the patience. I would have done the minimum of preparation and rushed into getting the paint on. And it would have shown!

And the same is true of presentations. It’s not just about the delivery, standing up and speaking. It’s about the preparation. It’s all the work that goes into being clear about the purpose of the presentation, finding out about the audience and their needs, then choosing exactly the right content, organising it, refining it, ruthlessly throwing out anything that doesn’t fit in, designing really powerful visuals to support the message, editing and perfecting it and not being satisfied with the first attempt, in fact being prepared to ditch it all and start again if you’re not happy with it.

A lot of speakers won’t do that level of preparation. They’re like me with decorating, they’ll do a bit of preparation but then they’ll get impatient and they’ll want to just get on and deliver the presentation.

And some will think that their delivery will make up for the lack of preparation. It won’t. Like my painting won’t make up for not sanding down the woodwork properly.

My decorator is a perfectionist. To be honest, he’s bordering on the obsessive. But that’s what makes him special. It’s what makes him a professional.

And, if I can bring that level of perfectionism (or obsessiveness) to my own presentations, then I’m not going to apologise, or complain, about how long it takes me to do the preparation.

Presents For Pets and Pet Lovers

Are you seeking the perfect present for the pet or pet lover in your life?

With the holidays just around the corner now is the time to start your shopping so you can beat the rush and allow time for shipping (without those priority charges) as well!

If you’re ready to begin your search for the ultimate pet-themed gifts, read on for some helpful hints and suggestions.

Pet Pleasers

(Dog and Cat Gifts)

Chewies and Other Fun Toys: Since all dogs love to chew (and chew and chew and chew), a new chew-toy is a sure pleaser. When choosing which “chewy” or tug toy to buy, remember that dogs, like children, can choke on small parts and pieces. Keep in mind too that stuffed animals are not an ideal gift for dogs as ingesting the fur and stuffing can cause choking hazards as well.

One more note on toys: If you don’t mind being responsible for buying that “annoying” gift, dogs really enjoy squeaky model chew toys! Just remember, you’ve been warned because when his or her owners are trying to hear the television over that incessant “SQUEAKING,” chances are they’ll think of you!

Natural Dogs: If you’re buying for the environmentally conscience, health-minded dog, there are some really great organic toy options made from products like hemp and canvas.

Treats: Just like they love to chew ‘things,” dogs also love to chew TREATS! Those scrumptious goodies come in a huge variety from fresh-baked products offered at gourmet “barkeries” (bakeries), to barbecued meaty bones found at the big pet stores.

Again, look at the size and shape and ingredients of any treats you purchase to be sure that they don’t pose a choking hazard or allergic reaction.

Natural Dogs:The options for the organic eating dog are countless. And if you can’t decide on just one type, you might want to consider purchasing your favorite treat along with an all-natural dog recipe book. Then his or her owners can bake yummy, organic treats right at home.

Cat Considerations

Just like dogs, cats love toys, but not really the kind to chew on.

Cats prefer to chase, bat at and pounce on their toys. Also, just like dogs, cats are in danger of choking hazards as well, so choose carefully.

Natural Cats: Your health conscience, green-wise cat will appreciate the thought you put into his gift, as well as your respect for his environment when you choose organic toys or treats made from all-natural ingredients.

People Pleasers

Pet lovers will get all warm and furry (or fuzzy) inside when they realize the thought that you put into getting them a pet-themed gift. Consider their décor and preferred breed before purchasing and if you’re not sure, you can stick with the type of pet-themed gift (dog or cat) rather than a specific breed.

Some great ideas are: pet beds, bowls, clothing (for either themselves or their pets!), organic pet gifts, license plate frames, biscuit containers, wall décor, books on pets and pet topics, welcome mats or pet magazine subscriptions.

Hostess Gift

(A really great idea!)

If you’ve been invited to dinner at the home of a pet lover, you might consider bringing a little pet-themed hostess gift or even a small gift for the pet as well. They’ll love it, and they’ll love you for it!

Boardroom Presentations – Sweat Like a Horse

Maybe you heard that horses sweat, men perspire and women glow. But in the boardroom everyone who presents sweats – some more than others. If you are in management or want to be, you will need to present in the boardroom. This is the worst place to present. First understand why it is that way. Then use these techniques to be more successful when you present in the boardroom.

Beware of Boardroom Landmines


The boardroom is a place of punishment. It is where management and executives go to thrash the last bad quarter results and beat up somebody. Whoever presents today in the boardroom is the target for today’s flogging. Hence just entering the boardroom stirs up a defensive and offensive attitude in most meeting attendees. They are ready to defend their own performance and at the same time attack someone else just to escape. A boardroom is not a place to birth new ideas – it is a place to crucify suspected sinners, torture under-performers and kill dreamers.


The physical step-up of the boardroom is adversarial. Meeting attendees face each other across the table. They are not facing the speaker. In fact to face the speaker they must turn their head and expose themselves to the physical discomfort of a kinked neck.


There is always a power position at the table. Even in King Arthur’s round table the strongest positions were those closest to Arthur. The presenter will usually speak opposite the power position – thus having the weakest physical position on the table.


If you are relatively new to this board meeting the ones with history will play their seniority card against you. They can bring up past issues, insider jokes or unwritten rules that put you down.

To succeed in the Boardroom

Before the meeting

Learn who will be there and learn their hot buttons. Meet with all or at the very least the key decision makers before the meeting and get them on your side. Never introduce new ideas in the boardroom. That is the surest way to kill your new ideas.

If the meeting chair is an abrasive type, meet with him before the meeting. Explain your ideas and demonstrate how your ideas support his visions and goals. And ask for his support to make it work. Tell him that you cannot make it happen without his critical support, which implies that if it fails he is responsible. Tell him what you want to accomplish and ask for his advice on how to get everyone else onside.

The more people you have taken into your confidence and who know about your presentation in advance – the more will support you when the vote comes down. If you don’t surprise them they won’t surprise you. When you meet with them ask them for their support.

Speaking in the Boardroom

Get into the boardroom before the meeting to get comfortable with the room – to make it your room. Test your presentation equipment. Sit in a few of the chairs to see the perspective of the attendees. Beware that the others are evaluating you the whole time – before you present, while you present and after you present. So appear calm and confident.

When it is your turn to speak, calmly take the power position of the room. Stand. Pause while you attain everyone’s attention. Then begin your presentation.

Speak to everyone in the room. Make a point of talking and looking at every person in the room. Move your eyes across the table in imperfect x’s. Don’t be fooled into only talking to the one with the most power or the one who engages you. And don’t be lulled into staring at the broad expanse of the boardroom table.

State your position clearly and strongly. Never apologize. Look to your allies for their support. Make it clear what you want them to do because of your presentation. Repeat your purpose. State the purpose early and be prepared for interruptions as well as your presentation time getting cut short.

Seek to gain one key point that moves them in the direction that you want. Don’t try to sell and close all the details in one boardroom presentation. Boardroom meetings are either to confirm earlier discussions or to suggest new directions. But seldom are they for details.

Your Boardroom Success

Accept the directional win and next step. Be willing to work out the details later. People are more defensive in the boardroom. Don’t try to nail the whole project in one boardroom presentation.