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Create Memorable Presentations – Overcome Death by PowerPoint


Here are a number of questions for you –

Do the people who write story books for children start by drawing the pictures and then write the story? Or do they (as I believe) write the story first, and then have an artist draw the pictures that enhance the story?

This is clearly the sensible and practical way to go about creating successful children’s storybooks.

So why is it that many companies attempt to create the slides for the presentation before they have created an impactful narrative that will hold people’s attention?

This is definitely putting the cart before the horse as it would be explained in a storybook with words and images.

Here is another example of a situation where this arises. I will always look at an organisation’s website and LinkedIn profile pages before  arranging to visit them.

On arrival, I will strike up a conversation about the website, only to be told that the site is out of date or does not reflect where they currently are.

So if you want to create sticky messages that are remembered long after you have left the room or want a website that is impactful, please read on …

So how should you go about creating presentations and slides?

Firstly you need to ask yourself do I need slides, and more importantly does my audience require slides?

The expression “send me your slide deck” has become ubiquitous, but will people take the time to review your deck, and if they did would they be more informed about how you can be of benefit to them?

If you feel you must have slides, here is my advice as to how you go about preparing your talk and enhancing it with slides.

In previous articles I have advised about how to prepare talks/presentations, so this time let’s focus on creating the slides.

(If you’re having difficulty doing the above engage a communications coach to help you get your story down on paper)

Having created an engaging and entertaining story for your audience now get some blank pages and get started on the slides.

Give some time to thinking about what text and images will enhance your talk and make it more memorable?

Read over your talk with the blank pages close by, write some key words, phrases or sketches (stick drawings are all that’s required), some images that would enhance the talk.

Note: To be effective, slides must be capable of being read and understood in 10 seconds.

At the end of this exercise you will have a talk and a pile of pages. Lay the pages out on a large table and practice the talk out loud referring to the pages/slides where appropriate.

Based on my experience when walking through this process with clients, we generally reduce down the number of pages/slides by asking the question, is this slide for the presenter or the audience? The slides must always benefit the audience and not just be there to act as the presenters notes.

When this process is finalised, give the pages to a person who is good at creating slide presentations in your organisation, or externally to my friend and colleague Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh of and let him do his magic.

“A great talk can be greatly enhanced by creative and imaginative slides, but remember, create the story first.”

Have you found this article to be informative? If your answer is yes, please like and share with colleagues.

A Woman’s Heart

A Woman’s Heart was a compilation album released in 1992 with six female artists, namely Eleanor McEvoy, Mary Black, Dolores Keane, Sharon Shannon, Frances Black and Maura O’Connell.

This album was a huge success selling over 750,000 copies more than any other album in Irish chart history.

The album transformed the careers of all six women, who are still household names in Ireland and still performing.

Why am I telling you about a woman’s heart?

Recently I have been coaching a lot more female entrepreneurs who I believe will have careers in business for as long as the ladies who performed on this very famous album (25 years).

Let me introduce some of them to you:

Xuemei Germaine CEO MicroGen Biotech (pictured above)

Xuemei is from China but has made her life and career in Ireland.  Xeumei’s Business is in the AgTech space and she recently won the sustainability award at the Forbes Thrive Accelerator program in California. She put a plan in place to get picked for this program, one of 10 companies from 200+ entrants from around the world.  On being accepted she immediately focused on winning the sustainability award, following in the footsteps of another Irish success story Maggrow who won the award in 2016.

On Tuesday (4th July) I had the pleasure of attending an amazing Female Investor Meetup event in Dublin organised by Anne Ravanona, Global Invest Her for female entrepreneurs who were there to listen and meet Shelly Porges and Kelly Hoey along with other strong and influential women in business.

Sarita Johnston of Enterprise Ireland told them that entrepreneurship is now a career path for women as well as men.

By coincidence on the same day I attended the final event of the Ryan Academy’s Female High Flyers programme where ten female entrepreneurs who are were well on the way, pitched to winning sales and investment.

I coached all the amazing women I have introduced you to today and here is a note just received from one of the participants in the Female High Flyers programme:

“Never in my life did I imagine being able to stand in front of a crowd like yesterday at Ryan Academy and speak. I have struggled with this for years and yesterday was a big day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help”.

Lewize Crothers, Founder Exit/Entry 

As you may know, I help business people and organisations tell their story and pitch for sales and investment. When doing this my emphasis is always focused on having my clients speaking from the heart and demonstrating the values they represent (not telling me their values but showing me).

I regularly tell people that as soon as they stand in front of an audience it’s SHOW BUSINESS.

In short, be engaging but also be entertaining.

Women are on the march, look out Guys!

Click below to register for this upcoming webinar on how to create your Elevator Pitch:

Your Boss asks YOU to Present – Opportunity or Threat?

Recently I have met several people who have been given the opportunity to present on behalf of their boss, who was not available for some reason.

This opportunity can be viewed in several ways –

  • They are genuinely not available and need you to stand in for them.
  • They wish to provide you with an opportunity to grow and develop skills in this area.
  • They wish to test you in a pressurised situation.

You should view this situation as an opportunity to stretch, practice new skills and put yourself in the shop window for future opportunities and promotion.

“Good speakers impress, great speakers influence behaviour”
Mark Sandbourne, NSA President, 2004

What do you need to do to prepare?

Here are the basic pieces of information you need to know in order to prepare well:

  • Who is the audience and who in particular do you need to impress/influence?
  • What is the purpose of the presentation?

To inform the mind:

Impart some technical information regarding new software, company finances, health and safety issues etc. which will inform your audience leading to greater understanding.

Touch the heart:

Help your audience to emotionally attach to your suggestion/proposal.  Facts inform the mind, emotional attachment gets them to act.

Change the will:

Most presentations in some way or another are about getting people to change to your way of thinking. The businesses that change, evolve, innovate are the one that survive and thrive.

“Change is the law of life.
And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”

John F Kennedy

If your wish is to be a successful leader you need to develop presentation skills!

An ability to communicate well is critical if people are to understand and buy into your message.

Do you need some advice, or do you know people who need to develop this skill?

Please share my article with them.

An Elevator Pitch that Rocks! (The 5 Steps + Video)

Recently, I was contacted by a previous client who is now working for an American multinational company; he had an interesting and exciting request.

His company wanted each of the sales team to produce a one-minute video which they will include in emails etc. that they send to prospects and customers.

Using the word video in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%.

So far straightforward you might say …

Why I was contacted was very evident when he sent me some sample videos they had produced internally with the help of one of their videography partners.

I have no doubt you are very familiar with this type of video, where the speaker talks not to the camera (you) but to some imagined prospect in the far distance.  All the participants looked stiff and uncomfortable and you would not be inclined to give them a call.

Here’s how I went about creating interesting and engaging videos for my new client.

Step 1:

I explained the three requirements a speaker should demonstrate if he or she is to be engaging.

1: Have EARNED right to speak on the subject

2: Be EAGER to speak on the subject

3: Be EXCITED to speak on the subject

All the team met the requirements, so we were over the first hurdle.

Step 2:

Decide on structure/template for the CONVERSATION.

I very deliberately use the word conversation here; prospects do not want to be pitched to, preached to or lectured to.

Elevator Pitch is the usual title given to a meeting where you get very little time to introduce someone to your business.

The story goes, you are at a conference and the person you were trying to meet all day gets into the same elevator as you on their way to the 47th floor.  What an opportunity to give them your pitch! (usually the whole 9 yards).

Based on my previous experience of elevator pitches, this person is very likely to press the emergency button and run from the elevator on the third floor.

Here is the outline of the conversation (pitch) I suggested my clients use:

1: Get attention

A headline that gets attention in the first 20 words or 7 seconds (this is what newspapers do):

’HEADLESS BODY FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR’ – headline from New York Times.

2: Tell the prospect about the problem you can solve for them

(If you do not know what problems you solve, don’t bother them).

3: Introduce yourself

If you have got this person’s attention, they will now be more likely to listen and remember your name.

4: Tell them very briefly what you do!

(it’s an app, patented device, etc.)

5: Paint a word picture about how they or their organisation are BETTER

(e.g. reduced absenteeism, increased output, more environmentally friendly, win more proposals)

6: Agree next action

(date for next meeting, send a sample, demo product)

See one of my many Elevator Pitches here

Step 3:

I then worked with the team to create conversations that engage and excited them, a pre-requisite to doing the same for the prospects and customers.


These conversations should not turn into a script that has to be followed word for word, but rather a conversation outline that would keep the speaker on track.

Step 4:

I then provided some space and time for the speakers to get comfortable with the conversation he/she has created before we started filming.

Step 5:

The scary bit for the participant.

My input here was to help make a room full of bright lights & cameras as unintimidating as possible. I engaged with each speaker giving them an opportunity to rehearse their talk in this space and only then did we roll the camera and capture a talk that demonstrated the 3E’s: Excited, Eager, Earned the right.

I recently spoke on the same platform as senior people from LinkedIn and Facebook, and they say if you are not including video in your Social Media Marketing you are missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your business.

When marketers include a video in an email, the click-through rate increases by 200-300%

Do not keep putting off doing something about this, call today and let’s explore how I can help you and your team.

Why be Fearful of Speaking in Public

Why be Fearful of Speaking in Public?

When I’m out socially, whether it be playing golf or with friends over dinner and it comes up in conversation that I coach people to speak in public, I am continually surprised by the number of successful and confident people who still express a fear of speaking in public, be it to an audience of five or five hundred.

Why is this?

Let me tell you what I believe is the cause.

The education system in Ireland and Europe generally puts emphasis on academic qualifications and not enough emphasis on emotional intelligence skills, of which good communications is a critical component.  Whereas in America from an early age students are engaged in ‘show and tell’.

Also, I believe MBA programs in the States put more emphasis on presenting and pitching as part of the program.

I am not going to change the educational system single-handedly, but I am now coaching students and lecturers in all of the leading Universities in Ireland in my style of communication and presenting.

This I believe will lead to more confident and successful leaders in whatever career path they choose.

What I can change for the individuals and organisations who  engage me to work with their people, is how they are coached and prepared for important conversations with audiences.

You will note that I use the word conversation and not presentation!

I believe we should always regard the opportunity to speak to an audience as a conversation, not a presentation or pitch. This immediately reduces the pressure on the speaker as it’s not as intimidating to have a conversation as it is to deliver a presentation.

My way is to ban all of the following words when preparing people for important meetings:

Presentation: usually dull and boring.

(think of the last conference you attended)

Pitch: nobody wants to be sold to.

Sermon: one of the reasons churches are empty.

Lecture: who wants to be lectured to?

When speaking to an audience it should always be a conversation. This is how all the great stand-up comedians engage their audiences. You go home not remembering the words (jokes) but knowing that you feel uplifted and energised.

Is this not the purpose of most business conversations?

My guarantee to all my clients is that I will never criticise them or tell them what they have done wrong, yet every person will be better as a result of our working together.

The degree as to how much they will improve is greatly dependent on the amount of preparation and work they put into implementing the advice and coaching I give them.

When I explain my methodology to clients, they regularly tell me that they need constructive criticism in order to improve.

My response is that constructive criticism is criticism with the word constructive placed in front of it to soften the blow, it’s still CRITICISM.

As one of my clients commented recently you never feel


My coaching philosophy is as follows:

Never: criticise

Always: praise (sincerely)

Leading to an atmosphere where people want to engage and improve.

Note: if you wish to become an effective LEADER the above principles also apply.

To compliment this article I’m linking to a 30 minute humorous video to the Sales Institute of Ireland which expands on and explains my philosophy in more detail.

What is the most common mistake Entrepreneurs make when pitching their business?

I listen to hundreds of pitches every year, so I would like to think I can quickly identify the key messages an entrepreneur would like to get across to a customer, or investor.

Over the last three weeks I have coached FinTech start-ups, Female Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs in the 50+ age bracket, a broad spectrum, I think you’ll agree.

Let me tell you what I believe is the most common mistake all entrepreneurs make when pitching their business ideas!

The fundamental error that entrepreneurs make when pitching is spending too much time talking about their product. They are so enamoured by the product they have developed, they want to tell their audience about every feature.

They believe the question they must answer is:

What do they do?

But initially, nobody is interested in what you do!

The question that needs answering is:

How does your idea/product make your audience’s business or life better?

My number one challenge when working with business people, be they start-ups or an established business, is getting them to articulate clearly how their business idea benefits their prospective client.

When you answer this question clearly and simply, you are much more likely to succeed with engagement and win new business.

Here’s an analogy to explain my idea:

When you get into your car to drive to an important meeting, you do not need to know how the engine works.  But you must be confident that the car will get you there.

Here is Aristo’s strap line:

“I capture your business story and give you the confidence to tell it or sell it”

(Note – there is no mention of how I do that).

In conversation with my prospective clients I focus on how improved communication/pitching skills will win them the next big contract, or investor funding.

To conclude this article, here’s two questions you need to ask yourself before meeting the prospect.

  1. Who are you meeting?

You cannot prepare a presentation/conversation for a faceless person.

(To edit an old cliché, “generic presentations are not worth the paper they are written on”).

  1. How can you make this person better?

You may be pitching to a large organisation, but invariably it’s one or two key individuals who will have the final say.

Are you confident that you can clearly and simply demonstrate to these people how their business will be better as a result of engaging with you?

Clients of mine tell me they find my outside perspective on how they could better tell their story incredibly useful. It’s easy to forget that internal stories don’t always translate well outside the company.

If you feel you need help in delivering your message, why not get in touch and explore how I may be of assistance?

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