Book Review: 100 Things Every Presenter Needs To Know About People

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In May of this year, Susan Weinschenk (also known as @thebrainlady on Twitter) released her 3rd book, the 2nd book in the “100 things” series. In her first 2 books, Susan shared with us, her knowledge on the effects of neuroscience on web design.

Her 3rd book, however, is not about the psychological aspects behind a website, but about presenting. As a Web Analyst this is often an underestimated part of our job. Susan shares very useful tips with her readers, practical tips on how to get more out of your presentation skills.

Susan Weinschenk

a.k.a. The Brain Lady

Hold on… who is Susan? You’re acting like we should know this lady… Susan Weinschenk has a Ph.D. in Psychology and over 30 years of experience as a behavioral psychologist. Susan has worked as an instructor, speaker mentor, and consultant, mostly for Fortune 1000 companies. Some of her customer include Walmart, Disney, The Mayo Clinic, Charles Schwab, and Best Buy.

Accroding to her blog, Susan also has experience in designing stuff [sic] for websites, software, marketing campaigns, TV ads, mobile apps, and trainings. Why is she called ‘The Brain Lady’? One of her clients called her that some time ago and she decided to stick with it.

Can we move on now? ;)

What does Amazon say?

100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People by Susan WeinschenkOn Amazon, we can read the following in the synopsis… what will Susan’s book about presenting teach us?

Learn to increase the effectiveness of your own presentations by finding the answers to questions like these:

  • What grabs and holds attention during a presentation?
  • How do you choose the best media to use?
  • What makes the content of a presentation stick?
  • How do people react to your voice, posture, and gestures?
  • How do people respond to the flow of your message?
  • How do you motivate people to take action?
So, where do we start? How do you set up a persuasive presentation?

Get To Know Your Audience!

Susan insists on getting to know your audience first before you even start to set up your presentation. You can do this, for example, by determining how old the participants are and what their business role is. You can also contact the organizer/host of your presentation to verify the knowledge of the audience about your topic.

Use your host as much as possible. Besides asking your audience’s roles and knowledge levels, try to learn a little about the location, other speakers and their topics. Your audience is the key to your presentation being a success, but don’t get caught by those nasty unknowns.

The Magic Presentation Formula

Susan shares with us a roadmap to help prepare for our presentation. Where do we start? There might not be an app for this yet, but there is a more old school ‘magic formula’ for it…

  1. Give yourself 30 to 60 seconds to tell the audience what your presentation is about.
  2. Clearly describe the problem, its consequences and the solution.
  3. Then give the audience a detailed explanation about this problem. Susan advises to use stories, exercises and activities, so that the participants also recognize that they need to change their behavior.
  4. Give a call to action to activate your participants, but don’t over do it. Less is in this case, definitely more. Give your participants a maximum of 3 call-to-actions. If you give your participants too many choices, they can’t decide any more.

Then you write the content for your presentation. Susan advises to integrate exercises and activities into your presentation. For example: Let your participants choose a prototype for their website. So that they get engaged with your presentation. Because let’s face it… people find it important to have control over their choices. This will encourage them to respond to your call to action!

Practice, Practice, Practice

Let it soak in… it is time that you let these skills become second nature. Susan recommends practicing the magic formula presentation as often as you can. How could you tackle this?

  • Listen to presentations of great presenters such as Avinash Kaushik or at TED.com
  • Evaluate your own presentations and identify your strengths and weaknesses
  • Take 5 points that you can incorporate into your new presentation
  • Provide a catchy opening and call to action

In Short

I think this book is an eye opener for every Web Analyst or UX professional who wants to start or already participating in public speaking. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you can’t convince your colleagues, like-minded specialists, or customers, you aren’t going anywhere. Learn how to tell the story, and thanks to this book I’ve got plenty of tips to work on my presentation skills!

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About Matthew Niederberger

Matthew works as Conversion Optimisation Manager at Ziggo BV. In his free time he enjoys family life as well as digging into online user research material whilst frequently generating some of his own, which he freely shares here on actualinsights.com.

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  1. […] a.k.a @TheBrainlady. In previous posts I have written only about her books, and even reviewed one of them. Susan, who has Ph.D. in Psychology  and over 30 years of experience as a behavioral […]

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