Events & Presentations

Check your ego at the door – and other presentation tips

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it takes to make a great presentation.  Over the past month I have been doing almost one presentation a week.  Yesterday, I traveled to Abbotsford, a small community outside of Vancouver, to speak to the local bar association.  On the way there I complied a short list of my favorite presention tips:

  1. Check your ego at the door.  The focus for your presentation is your audience and how you can best use your designated time to help.  What have you got to say that will most benefit the attendees?
  2. Get to know your audience before the event.  Find out as much as possible about their needs and concerns and learn what they would like to get out of your presentation.  If you can’t contact some of the audience members beforehand, introduce yourself to people as they arrive and ask them.  Or as a last resort, open your talk with the question – although you will get more information if people can speak to you in private rather than in front of the whole group.
  3. Settle on the top 3 points you wish to emphasize in your presentation and build your speech around them.  Which of the three ideas is the central focus?
  4. Embrace imperfection.  Many great speakers touch us because they are so down to earth.  Put your emphasis on being genuine and up front rather than perfect and polished.

Surfing the web this morning I found Garr Reynolds web site.   Reynolds is a former Apple executive who now teaches at a University in Japan.  His site has lots of great presentation tips and his blog post this morning has an illustrative comparison of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs presentation styles.  It’s worth reading if you want to re-think how you handle your PowerPoint slides.


About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.