I started life as a researcher at a university. In fact my PhD looked at things in the environment which might be causing children to get leukaemia. To be honest, it was more to do with ‘very hard statistics’ that medicine, but we made some good progress in understanding how to prevent leukaemia. I then spent over 24 years as a professional researcher at universities. (I also worked as an actor, lighting designer and a few other things as well as being a fire-eater!). I got interested in how things were explained when we had to try and get the basics of, say, 18 months of research into the head of politicians and policy-makers who hadn’t been involved in the research. Sometimes in the back of a taxi. Sometimes in a report. But always in clear, non-technical ways… but ways which allowed for no mis-understanding.
This forensic interest in things being absolutely right underpins my later work as a trainer and speaker – and this book!
At the same time I began to get frustrated with the ways that people explained things: I went to presentations and couldn’t understand them. “Either”, I thought, “that was a rubbish presentation or I’m an idiot. My PhD suggests it’s the former, at least some of the time.” Out of that and the research I did into how people communicated in presentations as a result of came my work as a presentation skills trainer.
And out of that came this book. It’s based upon reading nearly 400 pieces of university research (mainly journal papers but also a few books) and very little of my personal opinion – that’s what makes it different from a lot of other books on presenting. I don’t try and tell you how to do X, Y or Z: I give you the research and allow you to apply it to your personal circumstances when it’s relevant for you, in ways that are relevant for you.
I hope you enjoy it!