4 Rules to Follow for a Memorable Presentation


Tom Jackson is a live music producer. He is a master at transforming an artist’s live show into a magical experience for the audience. I recently heard him speak and he knows what he’s doing and has some huge artists under his expert guidance.

He recently wrote a Blog article about being an opening act people remember and it got me thinking about author presentations. Before I share the four rules, let me share a sad, but true story.

I was with a friend of mine the other day and he told me that a few years ago his favorite author was going to speak locally. He was all excited and even invited his ten-year-old son to join him as his son had picked up on his father’s enthusiasm for this person’s books. My friend related, “I got there and the author was sitting down with a microphone in front of him. He just sat there. He seemed almost tongue tied. He took a few questions from the audience, and after about ten minutes, he got up and left. My son looked at me with those ‘are you kidding me?’ eyes.’”

What a horrible let down for my friend. And, truthfully, this happens all the time when authors are in front of audiences—they either have nothing to say, or they drone on ad nauseum.

Isn’t your goal to be memorable? Isn’t your goal to reward your current readers and engage new ones? I should be hearing a resounding “YES!”

Here are my four tips:

  • Know your time slot. One of my mentors told me, “you need to be able to tell your story in one minute, two minutes, five minutes, 30 minutes, an hour or eight hours.” Authors, plan accordingly. Know how long you have to speak and honor your audience by delivering solid content within or a little short of that time frame.
  • Make sure your last statements help them respond to you. Tom Jackson tells artists, “you need a closing moment,” and so do speakers. You can choose to build to a close or create an emotional high. Whatever you choose, leave your audience inspired, excited, encouraged, motivated, happy, and glad they heard what you had to say.
  • Create other moments. Ever been to an incredible music concert? Those special moments just don’t happen, they are planned and rehearsed. When you speak, you need to do the same thing. Whatever your topic, look to ebb and flow your speaking and create memorable moments. Practice those moments so they come easily and flawlessly. Do you think stand up comedians come out and “wing it” every night? No, they practice and they practice creating moments with timing, gestures, looks and punch lines. Leave droning to the bees.
  • Know Your audience. You want to be remembered and you want to engage your readers with something special. It’s OK to take some risks and leave them with some memories. Part of taking risk is knowing your audience. Maybe you shorten one part and lengthen another depending on your audience. Or you go out into the audience. Take questions, ask for participation. Whatever it takes to be memorable and engage your readers.

Please don’t repeat what this nationally-known, best-selling author did to my friend. You never want your audience walking away with a memory of frustration anger or regret that they came. You want them to feel engaged and you want to create a memory that lives with them and is told by them to others who may even buy a copy of your book.


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Brennan Manning

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