Steve Bustin has worked with major brands (MTV, TalkTalk, The Guardian) as well as charities (Stonewall, The WEA, Girls Not Brides) and hundreds of small businesses (SMEs) and individuals over the last 15 years. He has helped them to communicate better in order to build their business, reach new audiences and support their team.
In this conversation, Steve talks about his book, The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking.
Geetesh: Steve, tell is about your book, The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking. Who is the target audience for your book?
Steve: My new book, The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking is aimed at anyone who has to present or speak in public, from presenting to colleagues in a meeting to speaking at a conference in front of a large audience. I know the book has also been popular among students who have to give presentations as part of their studies and also amongst entrepreneurs and business owners who are pitching for work or pitching to investors.
Presenting and public speaking is not just an essential business skill but really an important life skill. Everyone needs to be able to communicate effectively whether that’s one-to-one or one-to-many.
In business, presenting can be part of your job even before you’ve got a job, as many recruitment processes and job interviews (especially for senior roles) now include a requirement to make a presentation.
As you progress in a job you may be required to present in meetings to your colleagues or managers and you need your presenting skills to be good in order to impress. It doesn’t matter how good your results or work is if your presentation is a mess or you deliver it badly.
As you become more senior, you might be asked to pitch for business or investment, or you might have to present to clients. These are really responsible roles that can make or break for many businesses and again, you need to make sure your presenting skills are up to scratch.
As you get to management and leadership level, you could be asked to speak at conferences, to industry peers or to the media. Can you imagine the damage that could be done to your reputation (and that of your organization) if you come across poorly on stage?
Entrepreneurs and business owners are even more in need of strong presentation skills as they could find themselves talking to an audience of potential investors, angels or bankers as well as potential clients. Any business owner will also have to present their business at networking events.
Those business owners that are confident presenters also have a whole new business development opportunity open to them. Speaking at events, from business breakfasts to conventions, is an amazing opportunity to put your business, your products and services and yourself in front of hundreds of potential customers. If I speak at an event and don’t get at least a couple of new business inquiries afterward, I know something went wrong.
I wrote the book to appeal to all these people, giving a step by step approach to presentations, from outlining what you want your presentation to achieve (and perhaps more importantly, what your audience wants it to achieve), to finding a suitable structure that allows your audience to follow along and understand your message. I also look at bringing your presentation to life, with or without slides, and the stage and performance skills you need as a presenter.
My aim with the book was to give all these different audiences the confidence to create and deliver engaging and most importantly effective presentations.
Geetesh: Your book is peppered with exercises and tips and is yet a small book that one can read in a relatively short span of time. Can you tell us more about both these observations, and how these concepts will help the reader?
Steve: Who has the time or inclination these days to pick up and read a big heavy ‘tome’? The current trend in business books is for short, sharp and well-focused books packed with practical tips that you can apply immediately, and I hope The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking follows that trend.
The Authority Guides is a new series of business books covering all aspects of practical business skills from presenting and sales to mindfulness and emotional resilience. There are currently 7 Authority Guides, but in 2017 two new books will be added to the series every month, so by the end of the year there will be more than 30 available.
The series has been designed to be pocket-sized as the majority of sales of physical business books (as opposed to e-books) is at airports and railway stations as business travelers want something that will fit in their pocket and that they can read through in one flight or rail journey.
I also think a lot of business book authors want to prove how much they know so pad out their book with interesting but ultimately unnecessary content. I wanted my book to cut the waffle and deliver on the top tips and expertise. I know my stuff when it comes to presentations and public speaking, and I wanted to put it across in the clearest and most direct manner possible.
I included the exercises because the best way to learn and remember the skills I pass on is to try them. Don’t just think ‘oh yes, I really should set some objectives for my presentation.’ Stop and actually try setting some. I wanted to give people ideas that they might not have considered before and to challenge them to stop doing the same old thing time and again and to try something new.
If readers work their way through the book and actually stop and undertake each exercise, by the time they’ve finished not only will they understand how to give better presentations but they’ll have the basis of a creative and effective presentation.
As well as speaking at events myself, I spend a lot of my time coaching speakers on a one-to-one basis or running group training sessions so I wanted this book to give the reader a similar experience to working with me in person, as I can only be in one training room at any one time!
It’s been exciting to hear from people who have read the book, to hear about how they’ve changed their presentations and presenting style based on what they’ve read and the exercises I’ve set them. I know people have got new jobs, been promoted or won new clients as a result of applying the advice in the book. That’s very satisfying to know and the reason I wanted to write the book in the first place!