How Chris Murray Uses a Less is More Approach to Enhance His Delivery
For the average presenter, having the back up of an amazing presentation provides a layer of confidence that can help you to forget your nerves, engage with your audience and nail a great performance.
Slick visuals, a compelling narrative and an overall professional sheen can do a lot of the heavy lifting for a presenter, helping the audience to follow your story, understand your themes and ultimately buy into what you’re selling.
But what if you’re already a seasoned conference speaker? What if talking to a room full of people is second nature to you, and you’re perfectly at ease. And what if you’re actually wildly successful in teaching others the secrets of selling, pitching and public speaking?
Would you even bother to use a professional PowerPoint deck?
Of course you would.
Just a different deck from your average presenter. By making a few tweaks, you can create a streamlined, focused deck to take the power of your words even further.
Chris Murray, presenter extraordinaire
Take Chris Murray, Founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz, for example. Varda Kreuz is one of the UK’s most innovative sales, customer service and management training and development organisations, so Chris can legitimately count himself in the elite presenter club.
Chris regularly presents the secrets of his trade to salespeople, entrepreneurs and customer service managers at major events. He’s literally written the book on the subject: an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club, has been heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople and his latest book – Selling with EASE is described by Jeb Blount as “a handbook that will help you close more deals, advance your career, and build your income.”
He could easily talk for hours on his subject, without a script, notes, or a presentation running behind him. And he’d be great.
But what makes great public speaking truly exceptional is a stunning presentation.
Not a presentation that relies on experimental design or slick animation. Or one that pushes PowerPoint to its limits through 3D rendering or 4K video. These work wonderfully for other clients, but for presenters like Chris, too much visual stimulus can actually detract from his performance.
Chris is the presentation. The audience come to hear Chris talk, to hear his insight and to share his passion. They’re not there to see a cool deck that shows the latest range of products or sales projections.
Bespoke presentations for the best of the best
So for presenters like Chris, an entirely different breed of presentation is required. A presentation that perhaps has fewer bells and whistles, but is by no means an inferior product – it’s just tailored for a slightly different purpose.
One major difference is the look and feel of this type of presentation: less is more.
Tone down the design
In terms of design, they are usually much more restrained. Any images or background designs are there to complement the presenter, not distract the audience. However, they still need to have a premium, professional feel – the slides are there to highlight the presenter’s expertise and success, and they should always reflect this.
Cut the content
This minimalist approach also applies to any content in the slides. Keep text to an absolute minimum. Perhaps to identify different sections or chapters, but not much more than that. Don’t be afraid to have the majority of your slides saying nothing at all. Remember – if your audience is reading, they’re not listening.
When it comes to charts, tables or other data visualisation, consider if you really need them at all. If you do, then can you simplify them to only show the most relevant points?
Keep the storytelling tight
What remains is the narrative. A clear beginning, middle and end. A seamless flow of ideas, logically ordered so the audience never gets lost.
Presenters like Chris make this look simple, like it’s all coming off the top of their head, but in reality, it takes a lot of careful strategy and planning.
At this advanced level, presenters can weave stories within stories – telling engaging anecdotes throughout the main story – but still keeping to a clear narrative.
Bring the audience in
Presenters like Chris engage with their audience, bring their examples into the presentation seamlessly and go way off track, if they want to. Having too rigid a presentation can prevent them from doing this, which is another reason to keep the visuals non-specific.
Not too flashy, but premium
Essentially, presenters like Chris can enhance an already great presentation with a subtle, yet highly-effective deck supporting them throughout.
Of course, this works both ways. We’ve talked about how too much design or content can be distracting and result in the presenter losing valuable impact.
But if you’re an elite presenter and turn up with a shoddy presentation that was knocked up in a couple of hours, you’re immediately cheapening your brand, undermining your professionalism and generally giving a substandard impression of yourself and your message.