The 3 Magic Ingredients of Amazing Presentations: Phil Waknell (Transcript)

Phil WAKNELL at TEDxSaclay

Here is the full transcript of presentation specialist Phil Waknell’s talk titled “The 3 Magic Ingredients of Amazing Presentations” at TEDxSaclay conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: The 3 Magic Ingredients of Amazing Presentations by Phil WAKNELL at TEDxSaclay


Most people who come to speak at TED are here, because they’ve succeeded. I’m here, because I haven’t.

For the last 10 years, I have been helping conference speakers, business leaders, entrepreneurs to prepare and deliver powerful presentations.

And in those same 10 years, TED has shown that presentations can, and should be, both enjoyable and effective.

But 10 years on, despite TED and despite my best efforts at schools, at conferences, at companies, most presentations still do this to their audiences.

So have I failed? No, I just haven’t succeeded yet.

And to succeed in making all presentations resonate with their audience, I need your help. That’s why I’m here.

So I’d like to share with you the three magic ingredients of powerful presentations.

Okay, let’s just pause there for a moment.

Now I’ve told you what I’m going to say. The question you should be asking is: So what? What’s in it for me? Why should I care?

And that is a really important question, because the first magic ingredient is, in fact, the AUDIENCE. The audience is the magic ingredient in every presentation. This is not my talk; it’s yours.

Every presentation should be made to measure for a specific audience in a specific context.


Well, it’s very important, right? It’s really important to understand that we all have to listen to presentations. Wouldn’t it be great if they weren’t all so boring?

But we don’t just listen to presentations. We also have to give presentations, right?

How many of you ever have to give presentations? I think if we’re honest we all do. Sooner or later, at school, at work, and also in interviews, we all have to present with or without slides. And it’s how well we present that will make a huge difference to how well we succeed. That’s why you should care.

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So that’s the first magic ingredient: the AUDIENCE. Always make it special for them.

The second magic ingredient is the SPEAKER. Now, okay you’re probably looking at me and thinking: “Well, Phil, not very magical.” Thanks, by the way.

But it’s really important that you put something of yourself in there, something only you can say. This doesn’t mean you tell them what you had for breakfast. But it does mean that if someone else could give the exact same presentation in your place, then you didn’t put anything personal into it.

And that matters because when you share, we care. So show why you care, show why it’s important to you. Tell us examples and stories from your experience and that will make it more personal and more memorable.

So those are the first two magic ingredients: the audience and the speaker.

I know it doesn’t sound very magical, but you’d be amazed how many presentations have neither of them.

So the third magic ingredient is TRANSFORMATION. Now most presentations aim only to inform their audience. And it doesn’t work very well.

Let me take out my magic wand here, because I’m going to do a disappearing trick, because like this guy we forget most of what we hear very quickly indeed.

But good presentations are not about information; they are about transformation. They are about changing something in what your audience believes, in what they feel, in what they do.

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