NEVER BE BORING! Effective Presentation Skills.



Train The Trainer “ Best Practices

By Michael Coelho

There are a lot of important steps involved in planning and executing an effective presentation – especially to a group of fellow trainers. Follow the steps below to ensure a remarkable presentation that may very well lead to a standing “O” every time!

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! Planning your presentation is the all-important first step.

  • Begin with the end in mind – what action do you want to accomplish?
  • Define your presentation objective(s) and build your strategy.
  • Know your audience and customize your presentation accordingly.
  • How will you OPEN your presentation?
  • How will you facilitate interaction throughout your presentation? (Keep reading – plenty of great ideas coming up!)

And most importantly, take note of this: Presenters spend 74% of their time planning and creating the CONTENT of their presentation, and only 26% of their time planning HOW they are going to present their information. These numbers should be closer to 50/50.

Creative Opening:

Start your presentation off with a creative opening. When I teach a ‘Train The Trainer’ Class, my favorite opening is a clip from Charlie Brown, when Charlie and his crew are falling asleep in class. Click the link here to view the ‘Charlie Brown Teacher Speaking’ clip on You Tube:

I follow the clip up with an engaging question such as: “How many times have you felt like Peppermint Patty – fighting to keep your eyes open during a boring presentation?”. Or, “how do you keep your class engaged and awake?”.

The key rule here is to make sure your creative opening directly ties into your subject matter. For instance, when I teach a sales training class, I open my presentation blasting the song “I Gotta a Feeling” (“that tonight’s gonna be a good night”) by the Black Eyed Peas. I explain to the class how popular the song is, how it’s one of the most downloaded songs of all time, and how it broke almost every one of Billboard Magazine’s all-time records. “So why am I sharing this with you?” I ask my audience, “because it’s our job as sales professionals to create the same level of familiarity and positive emotions with our customers about our product, our company, and ourselves…”.

CHALLENGE yourself to create an unforgettable opening that is both entertaining and relevant to your discussion. THEN make it interactive: ask your students: “What creative openings do you use to capture attention and quickly engage your audience?” OR “What was the best presentation opener you saw as a participant?”

Collaborative Learning

Studies show that even the best listeners begin to lose focus after just 3 or 4 minutes, so you must consistently engage your audience in various ways throughout your presentation. PREPARE and PRACTICE HOW you will engage your audience. Here are some ideas:

  • Instead of showing another boring slide about the ‘5 best ways to capture attention’, break the class out into small groups (4 to 5 students in each group) and let them brainstorm the best ways… Compare their answers with yours – let the class vote on which group has the best ideas.
  • Case Studies are great for small groups as well. Material should be able to be completed (read and discussed) in about 25 minutes. All group participants should be involved in providing feedback to the class. For example, if there are 5 students in each group, the case study should have 5 questions so that each participant has to answer a question.
  • Be creative – break out the class into several teams for panel discussions, a debate, or role-play scenarios.
  • There are a lot of fun games and free templates online to turn your content into games like Jeopardy and Family Feud. Students love to play, and also love to receive prizes (i.e. winning team gets 5 bonus points on their next test!).

 Be All Inclusive

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review stated that when there are fewer than 35 (college) students, only 4-5 students account for 75% of the total interactions (answering questions) per session. And when there are more than 35 students, only 2-3 students account for 51% of the total interactions per session! Facing this challenge while teaching marketing, I use the following strategies to effectively engage the very quiet and hard to ‘draw out’ folks:

  • Start off with making eye contact (and avoiding eye contact with the class dominators). If the class dominator(s) continues to chime in, which is most likely, simply say to the class: “OK great, now lets hear from someone else”.
  • Direct your question to a particular part of the room: “okay, how about someone from the back row”; or “let’s go to the left side of the room”; or my favorite: “is there somebody wearing a red Nike hat that could answer the following question – hey what a coincidence, we have someone right here in the second row”….
  • And of course the layup: “let’s go to someone we haven’t heard from today”…

Another opportunity to make your presentation interactive: Break up your class into groups of 4 or 5 students and ask them what techniques they use to safely encourage participation from all students in their class.

Use Humor

Humor will put your audience into a more relaxed and receptive mood. Stanford University studies have demonstrated that humorwill earn participants attention and trust. Laughing can boost mood-enhancing endorphins and melt muscle tension as effectively as ten minutes on a rowing machine (I heard that on Oprah, so it has to be true!). When using humor, make sure to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Use funny stories, not jokes. Your ‘great’ joke may have been heard already, may be offensive, and most likely not memorable… a story is memorable and relatable.
  • Tell a real story about you that is personable and funny to you.
  • Keep everything clean – real clean.

Pump Up The Jam! Remember, NEVER BE BORING! Your participants will remember how they felt at your workshop long after they forget what they learned. Make it memorable, just like the song “I gotta a feeling”…

My Favorite Icebreakers

My Favorite Icebreakers
Michael Coelho

Studies suggest that the span of attention for most of us varies anywhere from ten seconds (me) to three or four minutes! Icebreakers are a fun way to maintain the audience’s attention as well as support the objectives of your presentation. Below are my favorite ‘icebreaker videos’ that I show during my sales training workshops, to help introduce the various steps of the selling process. They never fail to engage and help wake a sleepy audience! The videos can all be found on my favorite website – You Tube.

Please share your favorite icebreaker exercises / video clips with me at

Thank you!



Massive Failure / National Anthem

Great clip to emphasize the importance of preparation and pre-call planning! A great follow-up exercise is to ask the class to share an example of a negative experience they had due to lack of pre-call planning / call preparation.



Jim Carrey / THE CABLE GUY “Basketball Scene” .

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” (author unknown). Carrey makes a huge and hilarious first impression with his newfound basketball buddies. What first impressions are your students making when they encounter their clients for the first time?

Building Rapport


Chris Farley, David Spade / TOMMY BOY “Restaurant Scene”

‘Tommy Boy’ is the Godfather of sales movies. There are at least a dozen clips from this movie you can use to juxtapose the various stages of a sales call. This scene shows a breakthrough moment for the dimwitted salesman (Farley) as he is finally able to connect with someone and persuade them to take action.


Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss (Book)

As of 2005, according to ‘Publisher’s Weekly’, this was the fourth best-selling English-language children’s book of all time, so it should bring back some fond memories for many of your participants. Have students each read a page and pass it around the room – it always ends up with a good laugh and class engagement.

Overcoming Objections


Giovanni Ribisi / The Boiler Room
“Telemarketing Scene”

Objections are a great opportunity to connect with your customer – as long as you are prepared for them! A great clip that demonstrates poor objection handling and a lack of confidence.

The Close


Chris Farley, David Spade / TOMMY BOY
“We don’t take no for an answer scene”

Voted # 1 best sales clip of all time by scores of my sales buddies! This hilarious clip shows just how bad things can go when trying to close a sale.



Gator Boy Success




While teaching my (college) students about the formula for success, inevitably the ‘Gator Boys’, who have a hit show on Animal Planet will come up.  Besides being one of my favorite TV shows, they are the examplar for the formula of success.

The majority of my graduating students have no clue as to what they want to do after they graduate.  In fact, many of my forty-something year old friends are as equally uncertain when it comes to what career path they want to pursue – a decision that has been forced upon many of them after being unceremoniously laid off.  Now, by no means am I suggesting they become alligator rescuers/wrestlers.  I do strongly suggest however, that they focus their attention on their passion, strengths, and what value they can bring to the marketplace.  The following formula is an exercise to quantify these elements for students, professionals and especially YOU to help answer that ubiquitous question: “what should I do with my life”.

This simple formula has three components:   PASSION + TALENT + MARKET VALUE.

Simply rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 positive) for each component. You must score at least a 25 out of 30 points to consider pursuing your idea as a viable career path to take.

To demonstrate my formula, I conduct the following exercise in class with my students: First I ask them “how many of you LOVE to sleep?” Most all of them raise their hands. “OK great, that’s a 10 for PASSION. Now, how many of you are really GOOD at sleeping?” Again most all of them raise their hands unabashed. “OK so that’s another 10 for TALENT, but before you go out and buy new pillows, what is the MARKET VALUE for sleeping? Yeah, exactly – a big goose egg! With only a score of 20, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.”

Here’s where I look to Florida and refer to one of my favorite shows –  ‘The Gator Boys’. If you have ever watched  this show, you quickly understand how passionate the entire crew is about saving alligators. Jimmy Riffle (the guy in the cowboy hat above) has been wrestling alligators since he was 11 years old. Paul Bedard ends each alligator rescue with a kiss on the snout (the alligator’s snout just to be sure!).  For this category, they score a perfect 10 for PASSION!

The ‘Gator Boys’ are licensed to catch dangerous alligators who’ve invaded swimming pools, garages, and backyards in Florida’s Palm Beach and Broward Counties.  They often catch these deadly 1,000 pound reptiles with their bare hands!  Considering they both still have all of their fingers – they score another perfect 10 for TALENT!

Lastly, when it comes to MARKET VALUE, it’s another 10 for Jimmy & Paul.  Did you see the episode where a 10-year old girl almost went swimming in her pool with an eight foot alligator hiding down below? Now that’s VALUE – again they score another 10. A perfect 30 out of 30!

Now back to YOU.  Write down your potential career paths and score each element (Passion, Talent, Market Value).  Be as honest as you can with your own assessment.  Is this really your true PASSION?  WHY?  Does it happen to fall within your strength zone – how talented are you with what you love to do?  Finally, does it have REAL VALUE in the marketplace?  If not – it’s just a hobby!

– Michael Coelho