Pitching and Presenting have always been critical in the Advertising Industry and to every marketer. In fact, pitching is just hard work, whether it’s on stage, in a boardroom, on a conference call or over lunch. BUT, in 2019, selling by building engaging relationships, educating, sharing dreams and chemistry is more important than ever!

I believe that delivering a great presentation full of ideas, insights to the right audience, with clear objectives  – agreed and set in advance – is probably the most ‘under-rated’ sales weapon today. AND, one thing I have seen over the last couple of decades worldwide,  is that great presenters are master storytellers! 

I think too many people today are overly reliant on slick websites, email marketing, direct marketing, sms and social media marketing. But, they aren’t totally capitalizing on storytelling with planned and organized thoughts, delivered with polished performance skills and refined to deliver on the exact needs of your ‘captive audience’.

My Key Steps in Preparing for a great Speech or Presentation:

Before I make or even start working on a speech or presentation, I find it is always useful (Mandatory) to develop a ‘Listener Analysis’.

By this I mean, always find out and address the specific needs and data required or needed by your target audience in the room. Specifically, always try to find out: what ideas, words, examples or facts that connect and resonate with your audience. This will ensure you have the most convincing and persuasive speech/presentation.

  1. Listener Analysis Example (s):
  • Are the key or final decision-makers in the room?
  • Who are the key influencers that impact the decision-makers in the room or meeting?
  • Are they prepared to act TODAY?
  • What exactly do they want or need now
  • What are the key points in this speech/presentation that they must be in agreement?
  • What excites them or hits their ‘hot spots or sweet spots’?
  • Whose opinions do they currently respect and listen to?
  • What do they currently feel about me, my company or my subject?
  • Have I accommodated the ‘politics’ in the meeting?
  1. Presentation VS. Speech:

To ensure we are on the same-page, I just wanted to clarify my definition of the two different roles above.

A presentation differs from a speech. A speech is usually delivered from a platform in front of a microphone in a large room or auditorium. Audiences can number in the hundreds or thousands if you’re good!

Whereas, a speech is usually scripted and its primary purpose is to entertain, inspire or promote goodwill or enhance Public Relations. Speeches usually don’t push for an immediate answer for an objective raised. BUT, often persuasion is involved and used.

  1. Discussion VS. Presentation:

Having some two plus decades of talking to audiences, I have found that presentation differ dramatically from informal talk or discussions. Audiences in discussions are usually smaller groups. In my experience, usually around a boardroom table!

Discussions are more informal than Presentations!  Discussions characteristics include: rolling up the sleeves, making off the record-the-record comments, while searching from input from the others involved. Importantly, there is no ‘real assignment’ of a presenter or audience role.

In fact, working in the Advertising Industry, I have seen many heated and wild discussions over the years. Especially in the 1980’s!

  1. The Presentation:

In a presentation, the roles of both the Presenter and Audience are clearly defined. In many cases, the audience only participates if there is a Q&A at the end of the presentation.

The presentation is the result of tremendous planning, thought and hard-work. In presentations, visual aids are commonly used and are designed to persuade the target audience to make a decision and commit them to take action!

A great and skillful Presenter always carefully ensures his audience feel the presentation and information was ‘tailored’ just for them.

  1. Organization

A presentation MUST always be a well organized, thoughtful and strategically planned product. As most Presenters have a limited time to present (e.g. In TED Talks only 18 minutes, etc.) – it’s critical to present great ideas and make your presentation convincing.

If you use any materials or visual aids in your Presentation always present and use in the most effective sequence and at the critical times.

And last, but by no means least, to make your presentation or speech great, make sure you grab your audience’s attention within the first 30 seconds, or, your audience will likely ‘tune out’ of your presentation. Always ensure you use powerful stories to take your audience on a ‘mental journey’ – the better the story, the harder for the audience to resist!

Always remember that for centuries, people have been ‘hard-wired’ to listen to stories! Stories are the way human knowledge has been passed on for generations – even before the ‘written word’. Bottom-line, it’s the natural way our brain learn, absorb and process information.

Having outlined my ‘Listener Analysis’, explaining the differences between Presentations and Speeches, how to professionally manage your Presentations and the planning, thought and hard-work that’s required to invest in outstanding presentations – I will now provide my ‘Signature’ tips for organizing your best ideas for your Presentation – to really inspire, dazzle and connect with your audience.

Careful organization of your best content will ensure your ideas and insights will be quickly understood and followed by your audience. Importantly, if you get the flow correct, and logically located, you will have the best chance for success and a persuasive climax.

Bottom-line, organizing means knowing your objectives, what you are going to say and decide the best and most effective way to say or stress it. Basically, decide what to say first, second, third, etc.

Importantly, the first thing you must do, is to ‘pinpoint’ exactly what you want the presentation to accomplish. This is critical because, many listeners may already have accepted or decided not to accept your proposed actions as proposed in your presentation.

Make sure, once you’ve set your objective, write in out in one sentence. It must be direct, clear, concise and without any negatives!

ALWAYS, make your objective: AUTHENTIC, ATTAINABLE and SENSIBLE. Be relevant and straight to the point! If you use any supporting materials – it must be really impactful and meaningful. Otherwise, can them!

For example, if your key objective to to get an immediate decision or vote on your proposal, and it calls for instant action – always include the method for response or implementation in your presentation. E.g. Go to website XYZ and Vote YES today!

Always try to share a big idea that makes you ask yourself – ‘If I could leave my audience or crowd with just ONE KEY MESSAGE, what would it be? What would I want them to always remember? ALWAYS keep it powerful, inspirational and engaging!

HINT: The one thing all great Madison Avenue speakers have in common is they are ALL MASTER STORYTELLERS.

I recommend only using one major objective for each proposal because, it is far more convincing to the decision-makers in front of you, or the influencers in the crowd. Importantly, by keeping your objective and your decision-makers in mind, you will always ensure your presentation is targeted, lean and purposeful.

Additionally, you must always strive to create ‘mental motion’ pictures for your audience if you really want to captivate them too.

By that I mean, use all fives senses in your Presentation too e.g. sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. If you can fully evoke all those senses, you will only help boost the audiences ‘mental motion’ picture or your characters or stories.


You must instantly take control during the presentation. You must also show this clearly from the start but, always signal that you will advise or signal a break if necessary. E.g. to handle questions, lead group discussions, etc.


Here are some of the most commonly used introductory remarks I have seen or witnessed over the past few decades for your background:

  • Always acknowledge that everyone is present and indicate the start of the meeting
  • Welcome and introduce the people present if required
  • Indicate the purpose of the meeting and what you hope to achieve
  • Indicate the time schedule including breaks, announcements or meals or coffee-breaks
  • Advise as to the ‘handouts’ or ‘leave behinds’
  • Ensure everyone in the room can see the visual aids


I highly recommend, you briefly summarize exactly what took place and what was agreed. Additionally:

  • State the follow-up
  • Thank all the participants, advise where and when the next meeting will be held and what are the next steps
  • Acknowledge the meeting is over and if meeting was a success, ensure you acknowledge that too.


I have found the elite Presenters and Speakers are always highly organized which greatly helps them command attention, interest and inspire instant confidence in their audiences.

I have attached a broad outline below, of how I generally prepare and think about organizing my ideas, BEFORE making a keynote presentation or even an impromptu talk. I have always found that this greatly increases my performance. I always start with ‘Telling them my outline’ or my TELL ‘EM Outline as a say.

By this I mean:

  • Tell ‘em what you are going to present or talk about
  • Tell ‘em
  • Tell ‘em what you told them

Generally, use this short presentation outline too:

  • Subject
  • Agenda
  • Body
  • Summary
  • Conclusion

Well organized content for presentations commands attention, confidence and immense interest too. With thoughtful organization, good ideas become great ideas that flow and are better understood. They will also flow naturally and logically and build a highly persuasive environment or climate too.

Importantly, always try to keep the number of slides you use – ideally, under 10-15 slides is best in my opinion. No matter if you are pitching a new client, brand, raising capital or even forming a partnership. Additionally, the focus of the presentation always must be on the ‘story’ and the great storytellers never rely on the text or slides. In fact, the majority of the presentations that I see have text in a ten to twenty point font BUT, as you might have heard via Steve Jobs or even Guy Kawasaki – thirty point is best.

Remember: Always strategically craft a thoughtful, smooth presentation by organizing your thoughts PRIOR to presenting.

This means, prioritizing your points and thoughts in order of importance. Importantly, the first thing you address must be exactly what you want the presentation to accomplish or deliver!

These proven Madison Avenue inspired tips can give you and ‘unfair’ leg up on your next Presentation and go a long way in boosting chances of your success. If you want to become a master presenter or compete with the best Presenters on Madison Avenue, these steps will provide you with a game-changer!

Great presentations come from great stories, and great stories create even better experiences! To your continued success!


More about Geoff De Weaver:

Super strategist who directs Fortune 500 clients to define their vision, create a strategy, and harness their internal innovation to grow their business or reinvent their products. My key skills are decades of data-powered tools including: CRM, Mobile, Social Media, PR and Digital.

Expert at building and transforming brands, businesses, and digital and physical customer experiences at scale. Adept at telling a cohesive and integrated global story across multiple audiences. 

History of success developing and executing cross-channel global marketing campaigns to drive brand positioning, equity, and awareness while increasing engagement and sales and loyalty.

Innovative entrepreneur, author, speaker, and advertising executive with vast expertise driving business growth, reinventing brands, and implementing global marketing campaigns.

Feel free to connect with Geoff today! 

PS. Now, go break a leg! If you apply these principles I am sure your next talk or presentation will be a huge success!

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