Make a List and Check It Twice: A Real-World Guide for Speakers and Presenters

Escape from Cubicle Nation_ Compulsive obsession with details will save your neck when giving presentations.jpg

Pam Slim provides a great list of things to do prior to making a presentation. If you make speeches, presentations, or pitches, you need to read this.

Here’s one more power tip: Show up with your own Countryman E6i microphone. (And tell your host that you need a Shure or Sennheiser body pack.) This has two effects. First, you will be using a great microphone.

Second, you will impress the audio-visual dudes backstage. These folks can make your presentation go a lot smoother—or tank it—so you want them on your side. And few things will impress them more than a speaker who carries his own E6i.

By | 2016-10-24T14:21:03+00:00 May 10th, 2007|Categories: Pitching and Presenting|Tags: |14 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Gubatron May 10, 2007 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Make a List and Check It Twice: A Real-World Guide for Speakers and Presenters

    Hi Guy Kawaasaki!!!,Trackback from on Make a List and Check It Twice: A Real-World Guide for Speakers and Presenters at

  2. Doug Klein May 10, 2007 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Sorry, while this is all good backup information it misses what I would consider the KEY POINT. If your presentation is so dry that it needs PPT slides, special effects, lighting, etc, etc to make it interesting, stop now and re-consider. The BEST backup is to know your material, have a style that is engaging, be confident enough to do it alone, and be prepared to stand in front of the audience and just TALK! I once went to see Larry Ellison present in SF (worst speaker I think I have ever heard – sorry, Mr Ellison) and in the same forum a wonderful gentleman (whose name I forget) from AT&T spoke. He filled a wonderful 30 minutes with no notes, no slides, no kaka – just cohesive thought, ideas, concepts and principles. Beautiful.
    Of all the people and blogs I follow, you of all people should be standing out and pushing for honest, thought provoking presentations of emotions, intelligence and depth. Consider the following – the greatest known speakers of history had no electricity, no computers, no projectors. Can we hold to these standards or not? Please, please, let us be free of props once and for all! Give me some honest emotion any day ūüôā

  3. Roger Anderson May 10, 2007 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Here are my top 5 rules:
    1) Use Flash or PowerPoint slides on timers
    — You don’t worry about hitting the wrong key, you don’t add off-track comments, you don’t have to ask for “Next slide please.” If you tell people the presentation is on a timer they hold questions until the end, and you finish on time every time! (VCs included!)
    2) Be Early
    — Make sure things work and you know who can help if they do not. Bring a thumb drive, a CD, and hard copy if you can – just in case.
    3) Be Focused and Be the Focus
    — If the power went out did you make your point? Can you be as good without the slide show? Slides should add to what you say and not be the show.
    4) Use One Transition
    — If you must use a transition make sure it is not a distraction. Use only one of the following: Slide from left, fadeout, slide from right. Anything else is distracting and you want the audience to hear you.
    5) Don’t Distract
    — Let go of the podium, don’t tap the mike as you talk, and be normal. The audience should be listening to what you say not thinking about what may be wrong with you.
    I agree with Doug. You should be able to give your presentation without a crutch unless it involves technical data or diagrams. Too many people try to pass themselves off as great speakers because they have fancy slides.
    I have more but this is supposed to just be a comment.

  4. Chicago 2016 May 11, 2007 at 5:06 am - Reply

    Mark Kingdon of Organic, Inc. gave a really good presentation the other day at Kellogg’s Social Media Marketing Symposium.
    When in doubt, give everyone laser pointers and give them a survey by asking them to point at the screen.

  5. stanley May 11, 2007 at 7:09 am - Reply

    most of the audio-visual dudes I’ve worked with wouldn’t know a E6i microphone if it came up and bit them in the a**

  6. Brian Lash May 11, 2007 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    Doug, I agree that the greatest speakers of yesterday did not use powerpoint, laser pointers, laptops, or otherwise technical tools to support their presentations. But we shouldn’t be surprised: NO ONE did.
    But it’s impossible to tell – perhaps even foolish to assume – what the history’s greatest orators would have used. I can’t confirm that President Truman would have followed the advice of Pam Slim when delivering speeches at his whistle stops. Or if Martin Luther King would have insisted on nothing short of a Countryman E6i when he told us about his dream.
    The point is that every presentation lives and dies by its substance. Flaky presentations – and mindless presenters – fall by the wayside. And the best among us win a place in our collective memory.
    In Guy’s defense, I believe he would agree. Just look to his talk before the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. Or to the keynote demo video available on his site. Or just read his philosophy in Art of the Start.
    He’s a proponent of substantive material. And of a warm/ friendly tone.
    Everything else (e.g. the 1/10th ounce mic mentioned in this post) just supports that philosophy.

  7. Diego Rodriguez May 12, 2007 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Guy,
    Great post.
    What setup do you recommend for the Countryman? They have a dizzying array options, too many for this microphone noob.

  8. William May 13, 2007 at 2:55 am - Reply

    A great speaker is someone who can say what his audience wants to say, but is not able to deliver.

  9. Stephen David May 13, 2007 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Thanks for posting this here! I think that we need to embrace technology (ie. powerpoint) and use it as an aid… the discussion must be able to hold up on its own- but the photos, maps, video clips, etc all add to the experience! I do agree w/ Doug Klein though- the EMOTION must come FIRST!
    Be well!

  10. Pamela Slim May 14, 2007 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the comments on the post everyone! And thanks for linking to it Guy!
    To Doug, I would totally agree with your point that the MAIN attraction of a great presentation is the presenter and her ability to connect with an audience and tell a great story.
    I have witnessed so much “abuse by PowerPoint” through the years that I am near swearing it off myself.
    But, as I mentioned in my post, I am the daughter of a photographer, and I have witnessed the power a great image has to grab the attention of and cement a concept in the collective mind of an audience. The key is that you should have few, well-chosen and emotional images to anchor your talk, not replace it. Those that study the science of the brain say we learn best when our auditory, visual and kinesthetic senses are all stimulated.
    The point of this post was not on the substance of a presentation, nor the appropriate role of visuals. That is a whole other story for another day. For the most part, I defer to my presentation hero Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen for expert guidance and information on creating great visuals.
    I appreciate the other references to presentation tips here, and will check them out!

  11. Todd May 15, 2007 at 10:06 am - Reply

    As a audio-visual dude in my second part-time job, I would be impressed if a speaker showed up with their own Countryman E6i or AT892! I would probably go out of my way to see what I could do to assist this individual.

  12. sakthi May 21, 2007 at 12:14 am - Reply

    I given lot of Speeches in colleges and corporates,i think this post really help to tune up my way of presentation and preparation..Excellent post, thank you…
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  13. May 31, 2007 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Shut Up and Present

    Presenters, Stop Talking and Take Note
    To be honest, I‚Äôm not that great a presenter. However, I listen to more than my fair share of speakers from a variety of industries on a myriad of topics. Here are a few insights I have picked up along the way. …

  14. Rauhe Sitten June 27, 2007 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Vorbereitungen auf Präsentationen

    Man kann nicht paranoid genug sein, um sich richtig auf Pr√§sentationen vorzubereiten. Tips von einer Profi-Pr√§sentiererin. Sehr gute dabei¬†√ľber Vorbereitung, Material, Computer etc.

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