How you can outperform a Nobel Prize winner

Imagine having the opportunity to share the stage with one of your ultimate heroes, someone you really look up to. And your presentation follows theirs. You may be feeling very small in the shadow of a big name player, but there is no reason to feel this way. You could easily outperform a Nobel Prize winner! Let me tell you how.

I will share with you two stories, each featuring a hero on stage.

Top executive at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

De dame in kwestie geeft een presentatie in Nederland voor een volle zaal. Haar podiumprésence zit meteen goed: ze spreekt beheerst, met overtuiging, alsof ze haar hele leven al voordrachten geeft.

Maar na een uitvoerige beschrijving van al wat haar stichting doet, kijk ik verveeld op mijn horloge. Ik verwacht verlichte inzichten, sappige anekdotes of wereldschokkende data, maar die krijg ik niet. Bij elke nieuwe slide verschijnen er telkens meer woorden op het scherm. Ik haak af. Jammer. Een vijfsterrenperformance, maar van de boodschap blijft amper iets hangen.

Wanneer ik haar na de presentatie aanspreek en voorzichtig pols of ze openstaat voor feedback, antwoordt ze me vriendelijk dat haar stichting een communicatieafdeling heeft met een honderdtal experten. Ze heeft mijn raad niet nodig.

Jammer dat ondanks het leger aan communicatie-experten de Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation kansen laat liggen om personen wereldwijd te inspireren.

Nobel Prize winner

My second story: a Japanese Nobel Prize winner is flown in to present a talk at a renowned university in the United States. There is a massive turnout: the 900-seat venue fills up in no time. And hundreds more follow along via a video projection in an auditorium nearby.

But excitement quickly turns to disappointment: the presentation is uninteresting, difficult to grasp. and the slides are overflowing with text, some of which still in Japanese. The audience groans. Especially the many fans who traveled for hours to see their idol speak.

So much for the bad news

You probably know many more stories of speakers you had great expectations of and who failed to deliver.

It’s a pity that so much energy, time and opportunities worldwide is wasted, and all because of boring and unclear presentations.

But there is also fantastic news! If even a Nobel Prize winner or a top executive at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can give a bad presentation, then it is up to you to make all the more of an impression by doing things right. Even if your audience doesn’t know you (yet).

What will you need?

  1. Be bold! Dare to step out of your comfort zone. Take your audience by surprise! Be the talk of the coffee break.
  2. Gear your presentation to your audience. Make your content relevant. Make your audience feel that you are there for them, that you want to share something valuable with them.
  3. Rehearse, as if your life depends on it. Rehearse until you have your story down pat. Know exactly when to show which slide and when to crack your biggest smile.

Will you be sharing the stage with one of your heroes soon? Wow, what an opportunity! Blow your audience away.

Need some extra help? We are happy to help out. We often coach speakers to present at large events. You can also attend one of our workshops or read our book. Feel free to contact us, and we will gladly help find the best solution for you.


Photo ‘microphone’ by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

Photo ‘heroes’ by Gabriel Bassino on Unsplash