Interview Prezi-expert Spencer Waldron

Interview Prezi-expert Spencer Waldron

Zo zorg jij dat je een memorabele en unieke performance kan geven

Met de verschillende vormen van presentatie die er tegenwoordig zijn, kan het nog best een uitdaging zijn om te bepalen welke factoren bijdragen aan een succesvolle presentatie. Daarom gingen wij in gesprek met Spencer Waldron, de Director of Global Communication & Remote bij Prezi, een van de innovatieve presentatietools die een steeds prominentere rol in de wereld van (keynote) presentaties gaat spelen. Hij heeft een aantal essentiële pointers voor als je een memorabele en unieke presentatie wil geven.

Be invested in your audience

“The concept of a ‘keynote speaker’ is complex, and I think it is overused”, Spencer states. “Their focus is on storytelling: when companies tell stories, they want to make themselves the hero, but a speaker makes the audience the hero. The speaker himself/herself is just a character in the plot. Frodo, Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter all have friends and allies. How do you help them do better next week, without expecting anything back in return?

Speakers help each other and should be open to sharing knowledge, not just with their audience, but with each other, too. Actually, we need an unofficial manifest that says: we are people that live up to this. We don’t sell from the stage. That is the difference between people that speak as their main source of income or people who do so besides their career. For me, when you care about the audience and your presentation, then you do a good job.”

Interview Prezi-expert Spencer Waldron

Invest in preparation

One of the factors that indicates that you actually care about the audience and the value you can provide them with, is the amount of preparation you put into your performance, which is, according to Spencer, of utmost importance.

“When Steve Jobs did a keynote, he spent 3 to 4 months planning it, checking everything weeks before his presentation – he was obsessed with preparation. When you go onto stage, you tend to focus on how you feel, but you’re not focusing on what’s going on in the room; is the audience engaged? So, the first big thing you need to do is invest time in practice. I regularly receive the question ‘how do you look so calm?’. I feel like a duck: it looks calm and graceful on the outside, but it’s going crazy on the inside. What the audience doesn’t know is that I turned up a day before the presentation and went through my presentation for 8 hours.”

And, believe it or not, that is not the only time Spencer invests in preparing for the stage. He invests in scripting his entire story, even though he doesn’t always fall back on his originally scripted presentation: “I allow myself movement, then there is no need for panicking. If I lose my way, I can quickly find it. When I survive the first minute, I’m fine. Memory champions use a memory palace, I use my apartment: you approach the front door and knock, that’s when you start introducing yourself.” Also, Spencer spends a lot of time researching ways to make his performance both enjoyable and memorable for his audience, since he considers his audience his focus point: “When I’m nervous, the saliva disappears from my mouth. You need to have a glass of water. If you don’t want to pause, you can bite on the tip of your tongue gently.

What's in it for them

Also, I find it is always better to start with a story. I have this obsession with how people make decisions: you need the audience to connect emotionally and gain their trust. That is what you need to convey to stage. When you use a story, think of what’s in it for them. A story is much easier to remember and engage with. In the beginning, when the presenter called my name, I walked the steps to the stage and started talking. What I learned was to remain silent, walk to centre of the stage first, pause and greet the audience. I also learned a trick from Simon Sinek: keep telling yourself how excited you are. Emotions are physical manifestations, fear and excitement are processed the same. Force your brain to change feeling scared to feeling excited. That stops your brain going down the negative path. When you’re nervous anyway, in this way, you can manage it. Now, every time I give a presentation, I remind myself of how lucky and grateful I am to be there. Also, I focus on how I can add value, because you just can’t waste people’s attention anymore.”

Don’t underestimate the power of design

As a Prezi-expert, Spencer believes that presentations and attractive design are highly underestimated:

“Presentations are the most unloved tool in the toolbox. We need to figure out why, since they are of great worth when presenting to an audience.

At the beginning of my speaking career, I needed more text in my presentations, I needed that as cue. Now, I am happy that most presentations without the person talking don’t make much sense. Try to switch from using your presentation to convey information to letting the presentation amplify what you say. When you talk, you are lucky when 10 minutes after, your audience remembers 10%. You can help them remember by doing three things: think, do and feel. Weave them through the talk, speech and screen in a subtle way. Let them come together in your words, design and delivery.


What I learned from David Hook is to connect stories. Create hooks by letting the end of a sentence connect directly to the next one. Do that visually as well. The audience doesn’t see it, but I know what’s coming next. I don’t want to be chained to the screen, so I take a quick glance. Then there are no surprises for me. My design has become simpler. I use very clear visual metaphors to discuss certain subjects.

I started experimenting with storytelling in Prezi. That becomes about the audience thinking ‘what am I not going to hear?’, resulting in a fear of loss, which is very powerful. What is the clear value? I funnel the content in a way that I can dip in and changed the design in order to make it conversational. Everybody wants to see a good presentation and be inspired, but nobody wants to do the hard work. I believe the eight most dangerous words are ‘Click to add title’ and ‘click to add text’. Those make us follow the rules and stick to the template. Therefore, 90% of presentations will look the same. Speakers want their work to look amazing, but they don’t understand amplification in background.”

Spencer’s take-aways:

  1. Focus je tijdens je performance op je publiek en de waarde die voor hen kan toevoegen.
  2. Investeer in het oefenen van je performance om je publiek de optimale ervaring te kunnen bieden.
  3. Zorg dat het publiek je vertrouwt en emotioneel met je verbonden raakt, bijvoorbeeld door je presentatie te starten met een persoonlijke anekdote.
  4. Focus op hoe je waarde kan toevoegen, want je wil de tijd van je publiek niet verspillen.
  5. Onderschat de waarde van goede visuals niet; creëer visuele haakjes als geheugensteuntjes voor jezelf.
  6. Probeer eens een interactief design uit; zorg dat je presentatie er niet standaard uitziet en geef je publiek het gevoel dat ze macht hebben over de informatie die ze ontvangen.
Interview Prezi-expert Spencer Waldron
Spencer Waldron
Director of Global Communication & Remote Prezi

Spencer Waldron

Is de Director of Global Communication & Remote bij Prezi, een van de innovatieve presentatietools die een steeds prominentere rol in de wereld van (keynote) presentaties gaat spelen. Ook is hij een keynote spreker en heeft hij een enorme interesse in hoe je een ‘great communicator’ kan worden. Hij spreekt dan ook veel over hoe je zekerder en succesvoller zakelijk kan communiceren en duikt regelmatig in wat hij ‘passion projects’ noemt, zoals zijn onderzoek naar hoe mensen beslissingen maken en een emotionele band creëren.

Wil je ondersteuning, coaching of een programma volgen. Neem contact met ons op. Ook kan je nog even kijken op de download pagina voor eigen ontwikkeling!

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