The R2BB Story


A better way.

One day in 2007 I walked out of a hospital board room into a busy hallway and stopped dead in my tracks. I realized I had just experienced one of the most boring presentations ever. The problem was…I was the presenter!

I had bored myself, never mind my poor audience. There had to be a better way.

You learn to deliver great presentations.

Since that day in 2007 I have become a student and passionate advocate of the “art of the presentation”. I soon realized that designing and delivering an interesting, focused, memorable presentation was a skill you learned. It wasn’t a magical ability that people somehow had. Being able to design and deliver an impactful presentation is a skill every business (or other) professional needs to master.

On a mission.

During my travels I have met large numbers of experienced, talented people who believe that presentations are critical to their success but have almost no training in presentation design or delivery. I am on a mission to change that; I want to share what I have learned with others.

Since 2008 I have done presentations on presentation design/delivery at national and local conferences and have given presentation design/delivery workshops around the world. I have had the opportunity to work with many individuals and teams as they designed (and delivered) impactful presentations for their audiences. I enjoy hearing other’s experiences, and sharing  insights on how (and why) to design and deliver interesting, focused, and memorable presentations.

Presentations don’t have to be boring.

Joe Pops


When you’re hot you’re hot … when you’re not you’re not.

hot youre hotIn 1971 country western singer Jerry Reed had a hit called “When you’re hot you’re hot … when you’re not you’re not”. This is a concept that all presenters can relate to. Do you have a hot connection with the audience, or … not?

Recently I was booked to do a sales presentation on a Monday, at 8:30 p.m. I knew it would be a long day for the audience members as most had been at work since 7:00 a.m. I also didn’t know them so there was no prior relationship to build on. With those two things in mind I felt I needed to design the presentation to be as entertaining as possible. I actually was not looking forward to presenting as I didn’t expect to be very effective. I was in for a pleasant surprise!

Even after their long workday (which included sitting through 3 other presentations on the same type of product) the audience had a lot of energy left. They understood my message, and I understood their perspective. It ended up being more of a conversation than a presentation. From the connection perspective we were both “hot”.

I think there were three things that helped create the connection between us:

  • I prepared the presentation with the audience, time of day, and their situation in mind. This is always important; it should be a key part of how you prepare for all presentations.
  • I touched base with each audience member briefly before I began speaking. This is new for me but it worked well. Before presentations I typically focus on the computer/projector, so I don’t get to (or take the time to) touch base with individuals. This time since I didn’t know anyone I took the opportunity to hand a business card to each person as they arrived (there were 10 of them). That action gave us a chance to connect for a few seconds, even just to say hello.
  • I focused more on the audience than the material while presenting. This forged the connection, and we related well to each other. This concept is sometimes referred to as “presence” or being in “second circle”.

The term “second circle” was coined by voice teacher Patsy Rodenburg. She has worked with actors like Dame Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes so she speaks with authority. Some people refer to being in the “second circle” as being “on your game” or “in the zone”; basically it can be defined as a high state of awareness, concentration and connection.

Presenters want a ‘hot’ connection with their audience. If you feel you are not connecting try the three things that worked for me: preparing with the audience in mind, touch base with individual members before you begin, and when presenting focus more on the audience than your material.

Joe Pops


Off to see the Wizards

ND 1

Early in 2007 I became a “student” in the art of the presentation design. I had come to the realization, after one of my own presentations, that I was boring myself – never mind the audience!  Since then, I have taken a number of presentation courses, and done a lot of reading and observing, but taking a course from Duarte Design has been on my wish list since I read slide:ology.  I finally had a chance to do so earlier this month.

Duarte Design, and one of the founders Nancy Duarte, shot to fame in 2007 when the world discovered they were the designers behind the presentation featured in Al Gore’s academy award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.  Many people consider the folks at Duarte to be the world leaders in presentation design and Nancy Duarte a “guru” in the art of the presentation.

I must admit that I was nervous about taking a course at Duarte Design.  This would be the true test of how well I understood (or didn’t understand) the key concepts that I had been studying and using.  I felt like I was in high school, going into a major exam.  So with some self-doubt and apprehension I walked through their doors.

The people at Duarte Design were very gracious, right from the beginning.  They kept apologizing for their new “digs”; they have recently moved into a much larger building and as often happens, the renovations we not completed.  As I walked in I could see a large group of people busily working on presentations for various clients.  I hadn’t realized how big an organization it was; this confirmed my sense of just how important presentations are to organizations.

The people at the Duarte Academy, which is what their training group is called, were great in all aspects of the learning experience.  The course I took was called Resonate and is based on Nancy Duarte’s book of the same name.  The course walks you through, step by step, the creation of a presentation from the storytelling perspective; this is certainly not the “traditional” style most people use.  They taught us how to use the presentation design tools that were developed at Duarte Design, and we learned a framework for presentations. This requires that an outline of your presentation be laid out via yellow sticky notes. This enables you to put together the presentation as an engaging, impactful, story; it also allows you to see any “holes” you may have in your design.

As for my self-doubt – it quickly disappeared.  I realized that I was very much a kindred spirit with their philosophy and that yes, I was on the right track.  I took many things away from this course, but the technique of using more contrast in presentations stood out.  This means not only having more moments of contrast, but placing them strategically throughout to keep the audience engaged.  This is in keeping with Nancy Duarte’s presentation form, the shape she discovered that graphically represents presentations.

All in all it was a great experience and what I learned will change how I design my presentations from now on. I highly recommend the courses at Duarte Design for presenters of any skill level. They will help you to Refuse to be Boring.

Joe Pops