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

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.

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.

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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.

Imagine you are making a pitch to raise funds for a project or a start-up. After your pitch, the audience knows everything they need to know but they don’t fund you. Did you succeed? No.

Now imagine that after your pitch, your audience does give you the funds, because they feel confident in trusting and they believe that your project will be successful and it’s a good investment.

All of that is not information; it’s transformation.

So it’s easy for me to say don’t inform, transform.


Well, every magician needs a magic wand and here is yours. It’s called the Audience Transformation Roadmap. This is a really simple but amazingly powerful technique to understand what your transformational objectives are, and then to brainstorm what you can say, show, and do, to transform your audience.

So here’s how it works. To understand how to take your audience on a transformational journey, you first need to work out where they are starting from.

So we ask ourselves four simple questions:

What does my audience know before my presentation? What they know about the subject?

What do they believe?

What do they feel?

Now the difference between believing and feeling is believing is something that you think; feeling is an emotion. So for example, I believe it’s time for dinner; I feel hungry. See the difference, right?

So what do they know? What do they believe? What do they feel?

And lastly what do they do? Now this could be nothing. Maybe they do nothing relevant, or maybe they do something that you need to change.

So once you’ve worked out where they are before, you can then take them to where you want them to go afterwards. And we ask the same four questions but in the reverse order.

So now we know what they do before, what do we want them to do after the presentation? What do they need to feel? What should they believe differently to feel and do those things? And lastly, what do they need to know?

And when you follow this process, you realize very quickly that the real transformations are not in what they know. It’s in what they believe and feel and do. That’s what makes the difference.

Once we’ve understood where they are and where we need to take them, then we can fill in the transformation column with all of the ideas on what we can say in our presentation to make those transformations in our audience. And that gives us the content of the presentation.

Clear so far?

Maybe we should take an example. So let’s take an example. Let’s assume that I am going to make a presentation and I would like to explain the three magic ingredients of a great presentation. And I’d like to make my audience want to use the audience transformation roadmap.

So what does my audience know before the presentation? Well they know that most presentations aren’t exactly successful and they know TED is the exception that proves that rule.

What do they believe? Probably like most people, they believe that presentations are for sharing information. It might be wrong but that doesn’t stop them believing it.

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What do they feel about presentations? Probably bored but also resigned to a really ineffective way of presenting, because that’s just what everyone does.

And lastly what do they do? When it’s their turn to present they generally will pack things full of information and they won’t personalize it to their audiences.

So what do I want them to do after my presentation? Well afterwards I’m going to want them to aim to transform their audience every time they present, to change something in their audience.

I’m going to need them to personalize their presentation every time. And also I’d like them to use the audience transformation roadmap because I know it will help them to succeed.

What do they need to feel to do those things? Well if they still feel bored or resigned, they’re not going to do very much. So they need to feel curious about this new technique. They need to feel motivated to try it and optimistic that it can work them.

What do they need to believe to feel those things? Well, they’ll need to believe that the roadmap can actually help them to succeed in their presentations.

And then lastly, well what do they need to know to believe, feel, and do those things? Well, they’ll need to know the three magic ingredients. That’s pretty basic.

They’ll need to know presentations are bad at information but great at transformation. And they’ll need to know how to use the audience transformation roadmap.

Okay. Now we’ve worked out where they were and where I’m going to want to take them, what can I do now? I fill in the transformation column.

So what can I say or show or do to make those transformations? Now usually I’m using a flip chart and I’m using some sticky notes here. So I’m going to use virtual sticky notes.

Let’s start at the top. We’re going to need to make sure they know the three magic ingredients. So I’m going to need to talk at some point about the audience, about the speaker, and the transformation.

They need to know that presentations are bad at information. So maybe I should tell them that we forget most of what we hear very quickly. Perhaps I could find a visual way to show that as well.

What next? They need to know how to use the roadmap so I better show it to them. And I guess I could make it even clearer by going through an example.

They need to believe that the roadmap can help them to succeed in their presentations. So I’ll need to show how easy it is to take all of these sticky notes off of the transformation column and arrange them in a suitable order to create the storyline for their presentation. It really is a shortcut.

Okay. Now I need to make them curious. Now to make them curious, I’m going to need to make them care. And to make them care, I need to show that I care.

So I probably need to explain that most presentations really don’t succeed, and that I care about fixing that.

And then to make them care, well I’m going to need to maybe find out how relevant it is to them. Perhaps I could ask them how many of them actually need to present. And of course, I know the answer is pretty much everybody.

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I need to make them motivated and optimistic. Well I can make them optimistic by explaining how easy this is to use but also how powerful it is and to motivate them to try it, well I’m going to need to explain that presentations of successful presentations can really make a difference to how well they succeed in life.

And lastly, well to make them do these things I’ll need a call-to-action which focuses on what I want them to do afterwards.

So there we have it. That’s a very accelerated version of the brainstorming but it doesn’t need to take long. What we have now is just enough relevant ideas on how we can transform our audience.

So what happens next? Well this is where I’m going to take my magic wand out again, because this is where the presentation magic happens, because this is where you can take all of these sticky notes off of the transformation column, prepare a suitably magical storyline and then arrange all of these ideas back into that storyline, and hey presto, there’s my presentation.

Now you might recognize this one because this is the presentation that you have been watching for the last ten minutes. And this is where we are now.

Isn’t that magic?

So now you know what happens next?

Next, I need to explain how simple this can be and how powerful and it’s so simple it doesn’t make… doesn’t take an expert. Thousands of people have already used this technique to prepare and deliver fantastic presentations of all kinds, from TED talks to the boardroom.

But more than presentations they’ve used it also for emails, for proposals, for preparing interviews, for preparing conferences. Basically it works in any situation where you need to change what people believe, feel and do.

You really don’t need a magic wand. This is all the magic you need.

Thank you. Thank you.

So now I need to give you a call to action and here it is.

Remember those three magic ingredients of every great presentation: the audience, the speaker, and the transformation you want to create in your audience.

Try using the Audience Transformation Roadmap for your next presentation and you’ll be amazed at how well your ideas resonate with your audience.

And lastly, please remember I need your help. I cannot cure the world of bad presentations on my own. But together we really can make a difference.

So by all means, share this with anyone you know who needs a dose of presentation magic… could be your colleague, your teacher, your boss but you all know someone. But most of all every time you get to present focus not on informing but on transforming your audience. That’s where the magic happens.

And if you can succeed in changing what your audience believes, feels and does, there truly is no limit to what you can achieve.

Thank you.


Download This Transcript as PDF here: The 3 Magic Ingredients of Amazing Presentations_ Phil Waknell (Transcript)



Resources for Further Reading: 

The 110 Techniques of Communication & Public Speaking: David JP Phillips (Transcript)

How to Avoid Death By PowerPoint: David JP Phillips at TEDxStockholmSalon (Transcript)

David JP Phillips: The Magical Science of Storytelling (Transcript)

Sell Your Ideas the Steve Jobs Way by Carmine Gallo (Transcript)

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