PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

"Nobody cares about your story!" says Richard Mulholland

Richard Mulholland was one of the exceptional speakers at our debut edition of the Present to Succeed conference. He told us the truth about what we have been lied about too often.

Richard is a Rock and Roll Roadie turned entrepreneur. He is the founder of the presentation powerhouse Missing Link and co-founder of 21Tanks, HumanWrit.es, and The Sales Department. He also has written three books, Legacide, Boredom Slayer, and StorySeller, and is a global public speaker.

Did you know that no one cares about your story when you present? In his session, he told us the truth in our faces, in his one-of-a-kind reality check way.

Not having a story, but real-life practice makes you a great speaker

Real experience is what makes you a great presenter, not simply having a story. Practice in front of an audience to improve your skills.

If an international speaker says: The secret to my great public speaking skills? Oh, that is having a great story. That is not the entire truth.

Falling in love with your frustration is better than "chasing your passion"

Another myth we have all heard is that we should pursue our passion. Richard instead advises – “Fall in love with your frustration, fall in love with what you hate.

Richard founded his presentation firm not because he liked presentations. He did it because he was so frustrated by so many terrible ones that he believed there had to be a better way.

Stage marketing and why being a speaker is great for anyone

We also heard about Richard’s son and his ambition to be a public speaker. With time, he changed his mind and decided to pursue a career as an astrophysicist. Richard then asked him about his favorite astrophysicist and why he chose him as his favorite. “I saw this amazing talk he did […],” his son replied. The moral of the story: an expert who can speak will always have an advantage over one who can’t.

And then, Richard tried himself what he preached.

Richard’s revenue had been zero when he took on stage presenting and training people. As he says – “I was building the parachute on the way down.”

And he succeeds. He understands that stage marketing is a huge thing, and a few months later, he has the best revenue for his company in 23 years.

Another truth he shows us is about the expression “Death by PowerPoint”.

Blaming PowerPoint for a bad presentation is like blaming the pan for a bad meal. PowerPoint is not crap. You are crap. That is on you. PowerPoint ain’t gonna make you better. You know what is going to make you better? Preparing.” Richard states.

It's preparation that gets the standing ovation

Richard says that people often ask him how he gets a standing ovation on stage, to which he says that ovation is earned in the preparation, not in the presentation. “The delivery matters, but you are getting that message dialed in the beginning.

The more you rewrite, the less you have to rehearse.

It has never been about PowerPoint, Prezi, or any of the tools that can help enhance your presentation. “They are not the presentation, you are.” You should write a good talk before you design one, and before you deliver one.

Knowing your audience is virtually impossible, just be yourself

The second misconception he exposes is the idea that you should know your audience in detail. You can understand the background of your audience, their context, but you cannot fully know who they are.

Richard says that if, for example, you speak to a group of bankers and you act conservative – they are sick of that. They want to be human, and people treat them as if they are their job. And they are not their job.

He told of a time when he was giving a presentation to Saudi millionaires and chose to be himself. The reason is that they booked him for what he is. Why would you try to be someone else? Reframe the audience to your authentic self being the level of the presentation, change the norm.

We can only know ourselves, and the audience is equipped with a finely tuned BS detector. They can tell if you aren’t authentic.

Moreover, the audience is not a collective noun; audience members exist, and no one can possibly know them all. Every day, you can only be the best version of yourself.

Use your body language as natural punctuation

Richard says that body language is natural when someone is confident and passionate about a topic, their body opens up.

If you work beforehand, rewrite, and then you will deliver. Body language will come naturally. “Your body language is not the language, but it can be the punctuation.

You shouldn't be selling your story, you should be selling their story

We as presenters are trying to make people better versions of themselves,” Richard says. 

Every presentation’s job is to deliver a message and achieve a result. The story you tell is the Trojan horse that helps you get your message in people’s heads.

The champion is in the chair, and the sage is on the stage.” 

It is not your job to be the hero. It is not your movie. Your job is to audition for a better part. You are selling a better version of their story.

 There is a saying that Richard challenges – “You can take a horse to water but can’t make it drink“. To that, he responds with “Find a thirsty horse! Or better still – make the horse thirsty!

Sell the problem, not the solution

When you sell the problem, they will need the solution.

It is not about telling your audience a story; it is about selling them a story in which you exist.

Leadership and presenting

Presentations are a tool for leadership, about growing your authority. The difference between a manager and a leader is in your ability to communicate.

The easiest way to get people to follow you is to stand up and speak. It is your opportunity and it is an unfair advantage.

One last tip from Richard – “Give them a reason to care, a reason to believe, tell them what they need to know and what they need to do.”

Let's summarize

So do you know what you have been lied to about presentation skills and public speaking? Now you do because Richard walked us right through all of them. He showed us that being a public speaker is a tool for leadership and growing authority and that it is something we can learn how to do with practice and real-life experience.

Let us know in the comments what your most surprising takeaway from this session was!

And while reading is great, why not see the whole session by yourself? Get the Story Track Recordings for the discounted price of €39 or all the 30+ sessions for just €79!

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Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!