Book Review: “Jacked Up” by Bill Lane Mark Angelucci, CPCU, ARM April 25, 2009
Yes, another book about Jack Welch. It takes you back to the days when corporations produced predictable good results, with a twist! Bill Lane was Welch’s speechwriter for 20 years.
The book, written in a highly irreverent style, focuses on how Welch’s communication style, venues and presentations helped to drive the culture and results at GE.
Its’ loaded with examples and practical advice on how to improve personal, unit and company communication. In a time when we are subjected to mind numbing indecipherable presentations, the suggestions are vitally important.
Don’t be fooled into the belief that what you think is so compelling that the audience feels the same way. Better to give a talk that leaves people wanting more than wishing you finished 15 minutes ago. First draft presentations are too long – so are second, third and fourth drafts. Prune ruthlessly.
The control of your meetings is a big measure of you as a leader. Your involvement in shaping the ideas, vision and expectations communicated at your meeting should ensure that everyone understands that it is your views being expressed.
Make sure that you and your people, feel comfortable reporting back candidly on any ideas or project they are asked to evaluate. Good or bad verdicts are equally welcome as long as they are well thought out.
When preparing to give a presentation or speech:
Start with a pad of paper and or tape recorder.
Think about what you know and what you know will excite your audience.
Only speak about things you care about and are passionate about.
Resist being told to address other topics as a way to “round-out” your speech. If you have no other choice – cram as much of it as you can into one chart and run through as quickly as you can. Your audience will not care.
Be prepared to put the time into it to make it good – don’t short cut your preparation.
Stick to you major points and minimize (or eliminate) transitions or material between your best material. Almost every presentation can be made better by making it shorter.
To become a true learning organization – eliminate presentations where information results are “reported out” on. Replace them with presentations where people tell what worked (and show your mistakes for what did not work) in solving a problem or improving their results that tells others what they should do in similar circumstances.
The quality of a meeting or presentation meeting this threshold of relevance will have people leaving with “homework” assignments on how to execute these ideas in their operation or territory.
Did you start all your presentations with a promise of sharing something of use to your audience? And do you deliver on that promise?
The people you are presenting to are giving you 15 minutes of their life, what can you tell them that they can use in their projects or issues they are working on? How do you find out what their interests or problems are? Call them before you put your talk together.
Jack Welch’s outline of an ideal presentation or talk:
● A couple of charts
● Some big thoughts
● Some advice
● Then a raucous interchange of questions and answers
You don’t have to memorize your speech – but you do need to memorize the first 30 seconds. Set the stage that you are a serious individual with something important to say. If you have a good anecdote to frame your topic – sell it.
Ten minutes is more than enough time to present effectively on most subjects, only if you think it through and extract every non-vital thought or word.
Ignore all imposed time slots (on the briefer side). If you have 30 minutes to talk about a topic and you develop a great 15 minute talk – don’t add to it!
If using presentation software (i.e. PowerPoint) have:
Big clear bold type.
No bullet point should be more than 8 words.
Charts, graphs, matrixes – if you must use them – must be simple. As you review your visual ask yourself “why should anyone care about what I’m showing”?
Review, after you have a great concise version of your completed presentation, and eliminate every buzzword (i.e. robust, benchmark, metrics, bucket, leverage, space, synergy; 24/7) from it. Using them will lessen your credibility.
Promise yourself, before you deliver your next speech, presentation or proposal, that you will revisit these suggestions. Doing so will elevate how you are perceived and most importantly allow your audience to gain something of value from the time they spend with you.