Turn your talents into talks

Dyana ValentineI’ve gotten loads of questions lately about how to make effective presentations. And it seems we are more and more required to turn our talents into talks. (In fact, speaking to groups is one of the marketing tools in the Advanced version of the Marketing Mentor eCalendar.)

Here are three ideas to keep in mind:

All Roads Lead To You: presentation tips from Dyana Valentine on Vimeo.

1. Your slides (and your work) do not always speak for themselves. You must do the speaking. Find language that is fun to say and engages action from your audience. What do you want Them to do with what you are presenting (or sharing)?

  • Don’t put all of your talking points verbatim on a slide.
  • Avoid full sentences at all costs. I consider paragraphs on a slide a punishable offense.
  • Keep it to 6-10 words per slide and if you can talk through a point with a full-screen photo, even better.

2. All roads lead to YOU: think about your slides as an accessory, not the whole. They don’t need to stand alone. You are an integral part of your message, so lead our focus to you. Step away from the podium.

3. Use the audience: celebrate our different learning styles and promote engagement by communicating your messages in multiple ways. Use visuals, verbal explanations and participatory exercises (even calling out yes/no to a question you ask is a great place to start) to make your points.

Here are some of my favorite inspirational resources for visual storytelling and presentation skills:

What questions do you have about presentations or turning your talents into talks? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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5 thoughts on “Turn your talents into talks

  1. Alisa Bonsignore

    The fewer words on the slide, the better. I’ve submitted a couple of proposals to speak at conferences next year, and my slides are very minimalist. If you can get the entire content of a presentation from the slides, what do you need the speaker for? Too many speakers write an essay, then split it into PowerPoint format, one or two paragraphs at a time.

  2. Dyana Valentine

    right on, Alisa: I think there’s an art to proposing a talk as well–I’d love to do an interview with you on that! You touched a major pet peeve of mine: breaking up text into slides–the worst offenders are those who proceed to read.every.word.on.the.screen! Yikes. Just keep in mind that we:
    Speak at 150 words/minute
    Read at 250 words/minute
    so, we read WAY before someone is done reading their slide outloud–once you’ve lost us, we’re GONE.
    OH, and we THINK at about 1200 words/minute, soooo, imagine what kind of thinking we are getting done while you are still reading.

  3. Eric Valentine

    I’ve been a major offender in the “wall-o-text” approach to my presentations. This is further reinforcement of my need to pull back some of the content in my slides and focus more on ME. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Michael Stern


    How ya doin’? Looks like you’re busy as ever. I’ve made a lot of presentations and you’re preaching to the choir here but I wanted to validate (not that you need it 🙂 your message in that it works. One must be personable to the point where all eyes are on you and one must address all three learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Visuals support the message and act as memory triggers for me.


  5. Dyana Valentine

    ohhhh, Eric–imagine me writing you a ticket for wall-o-text torture:)! I get it though–especially when presenting very technical talks, there is a balance needed between clear explanations and text overwhelm. Let me know how the pull-back goes and if you feel effective testing this out.

    Michael: thanks for stopping by–I’m having a blast doing these Q&A videos, so feel free to contribute one. YES, you make an excellent point–think about what works for you, personally, then do that for others. Then, an advanced action is to take it to all of the other learning styles in the room. You can survey folks and ask what they’d like more of/less of in your talks. That has been extremely useful in service to capturing ways of learning that are not my own style and incorporate those elements into workshops/talks. Good luck!