Frederick Gilbert Associates, Inc., $239
In the three years I've been reviewing books for Training, Speaking to the Big Dogs is the best material I've had the opportunity to review. This program is for anyone—managers, trainers, techies, sales personnel, vendors—who present material to senior executives.
The host, Rick Gilbert, President of Frederick Gilbert Associates, interviews 17 top-level executives, so you can hear from the horse's mouth about the do's and don'ts of making presentations to executives. The focus is primarily on formal boardroom presentations.
The program is in DVD format and includes a very brief hard copy program overview in the jewel case. I'm a nut for books, but DVD is definitely the media for this work. Watching the executives speak, listening to their tone of voice, and watching their body language as they impart their wisdom—well, it was much more powerful than it would have been in a book.
The DVD is divided into five parts: Preparation, The People, The Presentation, The Process, and The Human Connection. Each part contains pieces of the 17 interviews. The executives talk about everything from doing your homework to how to handle the situation when a CEO must leave during your presentation. They don't always agree on every point, but there were three top take-aways on which they were unanimous.
1. First line, bottom line. Start with the conclusion, then substantiate with details.
2. Plan for interaction because they will ask questions. Don't plan to sail right through your presentation as if it were a one-way communication. If you have 30 minutes, present for 10 minutes and allow 20 minutes for questions and discussion.
3. Don't read from your slides. And as one executive put it, "Don't put 4,000 words on a slide."
There's much to learn from this program— way too much to do it justice in a short review.
Things that would have made this DVD even better (and for a $239 price tag, we could reasonably expect):
1. It would have been nice if they had included a thumbnail photograph of each executive in the hard copy. Screen titles for the executives were only provided in the first part of the program, which made it difficult to remember who was who.
2. I could find no information on the jewel case, the hard copy info, or the disc, that told me before I began how long the DVD is. That's a big miss for a program on executive presentations. (It's about 2 hours.) —J.L.