Never Let 'Em See You Sweat: A Tranquilizer for Presenters, Part 1

A master pitchman shares a few tips to ease the terror of stepping up to the podium

By Phil Slott

This excerpt is taken from a chapter from the new book, Never Let 'Em See You Sweat, A Tranquilizer for Presenters. In his introduction, author and former adman Phil Slott writes, "Ten years ago, I wrote the slogan 'Never let 'em see you sweat!' for Gillette's Dry Idea deodorant. This slogan, and the 'nevers' that go with it, embody my philosophy about advertising: Saying what you won't get is more compelling than saying what you will get.

"When it comes to deodorants, saying 'Never let 'em see you sweat' was more compelling than saying "You'll always be dry." What proved to be compelling was what was avoided. If you're still with me, here's why I wrote this book. First, I didn't write it to discuss content, and this book doesn't address what you present. This book does address how you present it. What you say is up to you. How you say it is up to you -- and this book. Everybody has to present, but being a great presenter takes a lot more than a Valium.

Great presenters may be born, but presenters can also be made great. Few can change the talents they're born with, but anyone can change his approach. This book is designed to help you change your approach to presenting. It's designed to help you be a great presenter by helping you be a calm presenter. In other words, it's designed as a tranquilizer.


"Do not count your chickens before they are hatched." Aesop's Fables

Never say always and the audience will never see you sweat.

Phil Slott
Phil Slott author of Never Let 'Em See You Sweat, A Tranquilizer for Presenters

A skilled presenter never takes props, aids, lighting, wardrobe, or the podium for granted. This means you should never assume you know your script, charts, notes, or your audience's attention span.

Never checking anything will keep your palms sweaty. Never assuming anything will keep them dry.

One-on-one. One-on-two. One on twenty-two. One on twenty-two hundred. One on twenty-two thousand. One on twenty-two million.

Presentations come in all sizes, from your crew on the assembly line to the national sales force of IBM. Presentations are given to all types of people: from senior citizens to Generation X. Presentations are staged for every reason: from selling soft drinks to recruiting true believers.

Presentations happen anywhere, or anytime, you're called on to be a showman. And the one thing that makes a successful presentation is not assuming anything.

Not assuming anything is only part of the successful approach. In the following chapters, each beginning with the word never, you'll pick up other tenets that I learned the hard way.

These are: Never say always. Never confuse public speaking with presentation. Never be pointless. Never be ignorable. Never ignore the other guy. Never drown in a sea of faces. Never let their agenda be your agendas. Never start nervous. Never trust one rehearsal. Never believe they're out to get you. Never be snowed. Never forget your crutches. Never run at the mouth. Never be too positive. Never get caught lying. Never be arrogant. Never be too serious. Never stop acting. Never say never.

Learning these "nevers" helped make a great presenter. Now they can make you a great presenter, too.

Excerpted from Never Let 'Em See You Sweat, A Tranquilizer for Presenters by Phil Slott. Copyright 2000 by Phil Slott, Kamuela, Hawaii. Reprinted with permission of the publisher Ad-Land Press.

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