Leverage your message. And my first polo match.

What happens to your presentation after it’s over? Does it fade away like the memory it has become? Or can you find ways to repurpose it to help add value to your organization, your audience, and your own unique brand?

It all depends on you!

Villa Sesta Polo club with the Tuscan hills where Chianti comes from in the background!
Villa Sesta Polo club with the Tuscan hills where Chianti comes from in the background!

Yesterday, Lulu and I went to our first polo match. In the Chianti hills between Siena and Arezzo, we nibbled on Tuscan-style snacks like Bufala mozzarella and prosciutto served to us by the Villa Sesta Club staff.


As we looked out on the field, we learned that each of the four players on a team has four separate horses to use for each of the four “chukkers” or periods that take place in the fast-paced game.


Four horses each? No wonder it takes a lot of money to play this sport. But, in spite of the apparent wealth, it wasn’t a snooty crowd like I’d imagined from that scene in Pretty Woman –which is about my only previous exposure to polo.

By example, our hosts, equestrian and country-inn Il Pozzo owner Carla Veneri and her dentist boyfriend Federico (plus their dog Amelie) couldn’t be more down-to-earth and laid back.

Carla, Federico, Amelie, Me and yes, squint, Lulu is there too. She said the sun was making her "go blind."
Carla, Federico, Amelie, Me and yes, squint, Lulu is there too. She said the sun was making her “go blind.”

The exciting game, plus the great food and sun-filled Tuscan sky, made for a, as our very-British-sounding announcer said so well, “Splendid Sunday afternoon.”


So! I could carry the day in my mind, or I could take photos and share my experience – along with my lesson not to prejudge a group before meeting its members – with others. It’s the same with your work.

YouTube. If your presentation isn’t proprietary in nature, have someone record it and put the video on your company’s YouTube channel. Or put it on your own. You or your organization do have a channel, right? If not, it’s super easy to set-up!

Newsletter or Blog. Adapt the transcript of your presentation into a piece for a company newsletter or blog. If you have your own blog, post it there. This way, you can reach employees or potential clients or whoever wasn’t able to attend in person.

SlideShare. Post your wonderfully simple and graphic PowerPoint presentation (see my previous article about this!) on SlideShare.

Publications. Yes, you heard me! Depending on your content, you can tweak your presentation and submit a query letter to a variety of trade magazines and/or business journals. The Wall Street Journal and WIRED magazine, for example, both offer member-blogs. Why not?

When you consider the variety of ways that you and your hard work can continue to be amplified – by repurposing and promoting your message – you are making yourself more valuable and relevant to your company. That’s another valuable lesson.

Lulu enchanted by Villa Sesta Polo Club's topiary ponies.
Lulu enchanted by Villa Sesta Polo Club’s topiary ponies.

As our polo announcer would say, “Simply splendid, indeed!”

Baci, tutti! Gina


How to make your message stick!

The bad news for anyone delivering a presentation is that in spite of all your preparation and practice – most of what you say will go fluttering out of the minds of your audience like September breezes that blow across the vineyards here in Tuscany

Yes, I had to get a Tuscany reference in here!
Yes, I had to get a Tuscany reference in here!

A 2012 research report discovered that immediately after a 10-minute presentation, listeners only remembered 50% of what was said. By the next day it had dropped to 25%, and a week later it was only 10%.

What does this mean to you? Take a sales presentation. Your audience is not likely to decide immediately after you are finished. A week or even longer, they may call you with their answer.  It’s critical, therefore, to consider that by this time, they will have retained only an impression of what you said, not specific details.

To ensure your main point is remembered, here are five tips in the form of a memory-sticking acronym “SAVER” – as in “Presentation Saver!” — borrowed liberally from  Sales Performance Trainer Jack Malcolm.

STORIES: A story is the best way to reinforce a point.  Since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories is our most fundamental way to communicate. Because they’re so powerful, make sure your stories connect back to your message and aren’t simply random fun stories. Please see my previous post dedicated to the power of storytelling.

ACRONYMS. As annoyingly trite as it has become (at least to me!), all of us are likely familiar with the acronym, “KISS” – Keep It Simple, Stupid! Originated by the Navy in 1960, it still works as a great reminder for us to break down any complex message into its most basic points.  Other mnemonic devices – like rhymes, short poems or songs are also useful.  If you are good at word games, you may be able to create an acronym to assist you.

VISUALS: Another great mnemonic device are visuals! We are all visual learners. An image stays in our minds longer than a simple verbal description. Use your PowerPoint or even props, to illustrate your points.

EXAMPLES: When a story isn’t enough. Cite examples to demonstrate what you’re talking about.  Make sure they are real and relevant. Don’t always connect them to yourself, but make sure they relate to your audience.

REPETITION: I can’t say this one enough. Ha. Get it?  No, Seriously. Here’s Winston Churchill: “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time—a tremendous whack.”  This is excellent advice, but even though he said “don’t be clever”, he was.  Each repetition of his admonition is slightly different so it didn’t become laborious.


As you outline your presentation, incorporate as many of these tools as you can.  Don’t let your message float away with the wind.




How to make your next PowerPoint simpler!

If “Death by PowerPoint” is a cliché, why are so many business professionals still trying to kill us?

By now, you know you shouldn’t be putting too many words or too much detailed information on your slides, but many of you seem to insist on doing it anyway.  Maybe you’re not killing your audience, but you’re probably putting them to sleep.  And that means you’re not connecting.

Maybe if I really squint I can read these graphs.. Naaaah!

Everyone can make their slides simpler.

A client recently lamented to me, “I can’t.  I have a global quarterly financial statement to present, so I have to put in a lot of information.”  Perhaps. But you don’t have to put it all on one single slide!

Your slides are supposed to reinforce your presentation and give it punch –  not  become a follow-along, word-for-word text of your presentation.


Use pictures and photos. Get graphic!  But, again, clean and simple is more memorable for your audience.  keep the photos per slide to a minimum.  One or two is best!

Break up your information.  Sure, you know how to bullet-point a list. But how many bullets do you have on one slide?  How much information do you have following each bullet?  Keep it short! Your verbal words should be telling the story, not your written ones.

Make two versions. When I coach with Aileen Pincus, we have often encouraged clients who really feel they must have a “long” version of their presentation, to make it.  But, also make a shorter, more visual version and use this one for your presentation.  After you’re finished,  hand out your long version as a take-home for your audience to review.

Consider Prezi.  Do you know about this alternative to PowerPoint site?  It provides a graphic-based, fun way to present your information. It’s free and once you get the hang of it, easy to use. Here, for example, is my Prezi take on “Leadership.”

Join SlideShare. If you haven’t already joined this popular site, it’s a great resource. Before you make your next PowerPoint on any given topic, plug in some search terms on SlideShare and see what is already out there.  There are some duds, mind you, but you will also find some lovely slides from which to draw inspiration! Here, for another example, is my recent PowerPoint on “Communicating Change.”  Let me know what you think.


Read your slides.  Your audience is there to see and hear you, not your PowerPoint.  If you write out your script on your slides, the audience will read ahead and not follow you.  You will have lost control and relevance.

Use over-detailed graphs.  We’ve all seen the US Government’s crazy undecipherable slide for planning tactics in Afghanistan.  But, a detailed graph outlining quarterly financials is bound to be too complicated too.  Point out the take-aways in your slide and hand out the financial statement as a supplement to study – after  your finished.

The poster-child of bad PowerPoints!

Use fussy themes or silly transitions. The best slides are the simplest. If you’re spending time agonizing over which colorful theme to use, or whether to use a “star-shaped” dissolve between slides, stop. It’s likely to look amateurish and be distracting anyway. Standard transitions and a white background is a good starting point unless you’re a graphic designer.

Go over “three.”  Think in groups of “three.”  Three bullet points maximum on a slide. Three illustrations to make a point. Your audience won’t remember more than that, so don’t try to force them.

Forget to rehearse.  Practice presenting with your slides in real time.  How do you feel when you see each one? Do they make sense to you? If you can’t follow your slides, how can you expect your audience to?

Take a moment to learn how to simplify.   If your slides are simpler, they will have more impact. And then, so will you!

This is from one of my PowerPoints!
This is from one of my PowerPoints!

Let me know how you’re doing with your slides. Need more advice, let me know!



Breakin’ It Down! Gina’s Better Communications How-to #1

Many of you may know that in my former life, aka “pre-Lulu,” I was a CNN correspondent and anchor.

Yes, that's me back in the day - love the short blonde hair?
Yes, that’s me back in the day – love the short blonde hair?

And since that time, when I’m not sipping espresso or prosecco surrounded by 500-year-old buildings and chain-smoking locals here in Italy, I work as a communications consultant.

Here I am in Jordan working with a group of amazing Iraqi women running for Parliament
Here I am in Jordan working with a group of amazing Iraqi women running for Parliament

I have written on the subject of effective communications for other companies, but never here.  Until now.

Without further ado, I present my new occasional series. Gina’s Better Communications.”  Today’s lesson is drawn straight from a real-life example from  a meeting I had yesterday about what NOT to do when you have a lot of detailed information to present to an audience.

My client is an executive with a large multi-national.  He has advanced degrees.  He speaks three languages. In short, he is smart and accomplished.

But that doesn’t make him a good presenter.

I cannot tell you exactly what he needed to tell his group of regional managers, without tipping who he is or for whom he works, but let’s say it was a quarterly report with tons of data.

I also cannot show you his actual PowerPoint presentation, of course, by way of example – because it would be too hard to redact all the confidential information.

So, here’s my quick rendition.


It was NINE COLUMNS and TWENTY-TWO ROWS of DATA on a SINGLE SLIDE!! With all the numbers, percentages, color-codes, etc on the original slide, it looked like the cockpit of a 777.

Needless to say nearly every hand in the room shot up with people confused and frustrated about what they were seeing.  The presenter lost control of the audience, lost control of the presentation and, of course, lost an opportunity to deliver whatever message this slide was supposed  to communicate.

This slide is a perfect example of a fundamentally flawed approach to effective communication. 

Simpler, allows your audience to follow where YOU want to lead them.

No matter what level of baseline understanding of the concepts an audience member has – dense slides are dense slides.

Break down information first.

Remember, you are not trying to merely provide information whenever you present something like this, you are trying to motivate or persuade your audience to some action, or some consensus or some point of view.

When you put up a very busy slide, you are inviting your audience to stop listening to you. You may be planning to explain your busy slide – but you will never get the chance.  Because you are no longer controlling the presentation.  Your audience has stopped listening to you and is now squinting their eyes and looking all over the screen.  They are not being led by you.

Break your information down first!

It is better, therefore, to break up the slides into digestible and more memorable chunks.

That way, you, as the presenter, will LEAD the audience  – simple slide, by simple slide – one at a time – down the path of understanding and toward the ultimate action or position that YOU want them to arrive at.

Once the audience has been led to where you need them to be, then if you need to, present the full-dense slide.

But why not just provide such an involved matrix as a take-away handout after the presentation?

Okay, folks, class dismissed!

Baci from Italy and Now Communications Consulting Land, too. 



P.S.  Tell me your favorite information over-load or death by Powerpoint story! Would love to hear.  By the way, my client loves the new approach – he took hours making that poor Matrix and now it will be so much easier for him – AND his audience!