When Presenters Run Out Of Ideas, It’s Time To Read A Book

by drjim on February 24, 2009

Presenters Can Get New Ideas By Reading More Books

Presenters Can Get New Ideas By Reading More Books

Sometimes when we are called on to give a presentation, we sit down to create the presentation only to find that our creative juices have somehow run dry. Oh, oh – this can be a big challenge. What always just seemed to “be there” can go missing just when we really need to draw upon it. What’s a presenter to do?

Despair not fellow presenters! This situation has happened to me and other presenters and we have a fairly simple solution that will get you out of this pickle: read a book.

Katherine Meeks is a New York City based speech consultant and language coach. She’s spent a lot of time with speechwriters and has made a not-so-amazing discovery: those of us who read a lot seem to have the best thoughts, the best style, and the most precise ways of using our vocabulary to make our presentations memorable.

I can hear you now: “Hey, I have a subscription to People magazine – I’m well read!” Umm, nope that’s just not going to cut it.

How often do you work on expanding your vocabulary? Probably  not all that often. It turns out that once we are out of school, the size of our vocabulary stops growing as fast as it once did. Reading turns out to be one of the most effective ways that as adults we can continue to grow our vocabulary. Once again, a word-of-the-day desk calendar is not going to get you to where you want to be.

If you want to become a great presenter, then you have to become a great reader. In order for this to happen, you need to discover interesting books. The best way to do this is to simply ask other people that you know what they are reading.  The key here is to find a way to filter the unending stream of books that are produced every year into a manageable trickle that you can have a chance of reading.

Other good ways to fette possible books for you to read include seeing movies and then reading the book. I was touched by the movie “Pursuit of Happyness” and just had to follow this up by getting and reading Chris Gardner‘s book that the movie was based on. Wow – the book was much different from the movie, I was very glad that I read it. Another way to pick out the books that you might want to read is to spend some time with the book review section of your local newspaper – this can be a great way to spot stinkers.

Once you’ve created a list of books / authors that you’d like to read in order to have your presentations become inspired, the next thing that you need to do is to get your hands on some books. This is actually quite easy to do, but you’ve got to remember that you’ve got a lot of choices. Remember when you used to go to the library as a kid? Well guess what – the library is still there. When was the last time that you went?

Other sources for books include your local used book store (why pay full price?), the local Borders / Barnes & Nobel, and your on-line friend – Amazon. It really doesn’t matter where you get your books from, just make sure that you get them and that you read them! Your audiences will thank you…

Do you think that you read enough books? Have you ever used some of what you’ve read in one of your presentations? What types of books do you think help your presentations the most? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard I. Garber February 25, 2009 at 10:11 am

Jim:

Books can give you new ideas. Here are some more strategies for saving time and money.

The new books shelf at your friendly local public library is a good place to find books worth reading. Your librarian already has selected the best recent stuff out there.

Also, don’t forget that your public library can reach out to the world for you. In a Christmas post on my Joyful Public Speaking blog I discussed Finding Books to Read – the Joy of Interlibrary Loan. http://joyfulpublicspeaking.blogspot.com/2008/12/finding-books-to-read-joy-of.html

You should check into obtaining access to local college or university libraries. Most institutions have a program to accommodate visitors and alumni who want to check out books. It might be called a “Friends of the Libraries” membership, or something similar. As an example, the University of South Florida offers a “Special Borrower’s Card” at $50 per year. For the price of a couple of hardcover books you can check out ten books at a time. Where I live in Idaho the Boise State University will even give you a “Citizen’s Card” for free!

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Dr. Jim Anderson February 25, 2009 at 10:54 am

Richard: you are correct! In this age of Amazon “one-click” ordering, it’s all too easy to forget about the local library. You also bring up a really good point – inter-library loan programs mean that you can get your hands on just about any book if you are willing to wait just a bit to do so.

I had not realized that you could get visitor cards at university libraries. Looks like I’ve got a university that I’ve got to go pay a visit to…!

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