Drive Your Presentation Skills to New Heights

By Heather Baldwin

When it comes to improving presentation skills, most salespeople are caught in a classic Catch 22. They’d like to read some of the latest books on delivering effective presentations, but they’re so busy preparing for their upcoming presentations they simply don’t have time. Fortunately, there’s a solution. Many good books on presenting now are available on audio tape, which means you can absorb the ideas of the world’s top presenters during the unproductive hours you spend in the car each week. Kathryn Kennedy, corporate sales manager at Simply Audiobooks (, recommends you start your “reading” with these presentation books on CD.

Life Is a Series of Presentations by Tony Jeary (Sound Ideas, 2003). Jeary, presentation coach to many top CEOs, introduces eight general practices of successful presenters that he says will allow you to master any interaction, whether it involves a roomful of colleagues, a small group or just one person. In his book Jeary deals with the practical aspects of presentations, including how to do your homework to understand an audience, how to cut the tensions that interfere with rapport, how to handle hecklers, how to build an arsenal of anecdotes and more. He also talks about eight inhibitors, such as perfectionism and a desire to please, that can sabotage presentations. In addition, he discusses the anatomy of the thank you and what those two words at the end of your presentation communicate about your self-regard.

Why Business People Speak Like Idiots by Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway and Jon Warshawsky (Tantor Media, 2005). “This is just the kind of synergistic, customer-centric, upsell-driven, out-of-the box, customizable, strategically tactical, best-of-breed thought leadership that will help our clients track to true north.” Sound familiar? That’s because when we get to work we “hit the pause button on our personalities,” say the authors. This book can help you trade the jargon for straight talk and put the plain speaking your prospects can understand back into your sales presentations.

Talk Your Way to the Top: How to Address Any Audience Like Your Career Depended on It by Kevin Daley (American Media International, 2004). This book is for people who have to speak in front of critical listeners as part of their business lives. “Since you can’t avoid these situations if you want to advance your career,” says Daley, “you might as well get good at them.” The audio book introduces listeners to a number of situations common to everyday business, then details the skills you need to communicate without fear and make the best impression, whether you’re speaking to an audience of 1 or 1,000.

Speak for Yourself by Robert Montgomery (Oasis Audio, 2002). This is a good basic book on presentation skills. It teaches how to present your ideas with impact, give a speech without notes and win an audience’s respect and more. If you’re new to presenting this is a great place to start on the road to becoming a master.