Agency Leadership: Can you be a great leader and not be a great presenter?


It is often critical for new business, particularly for small-to mid-size ad agencies, that agency leaders be good at presenting.

I was reading an excellent article written by Dan McCarthy, a manager of leadership development and author of the blog Great Leadership: Opinions and information on leadership and leadership development.

Dan points out that (ad agency) leaders can’t skimp on presentation skills as he raises the question, “Can you be a great leader and not be a great presenter?”

“For most leaders, at some point, they are going to have to give that department presentation, halftime pep talk, inspirational talk to the troops, or presentation to the big dogs. It’s those make-or-break moments on stage when leaders have the opportunity to influence the greatest number of people to change.

So if a leader gets stage fright, and doesn’t shine during these opportunities, or worse, avoids them altogether, than I’d say it’s going to be an up hill climb to ever become a truly great leader. You can’t just throw up your hands and say “it’s just not me”. Consider it a requirement for the job.

Dan reminds us that presentation skills are “learnable” and provides the following 5 recommendations:

1. Get Help. If you know you are behind most of your peers, there here are books such as “Leading Out Loud”, and public courses that you can find in just      about any major city or  a personal coach could be a good option

2. Use deliberate practice. That is how the best athletes, performers, and leaders do it. They don’t rely on inborn talent. Never, ever, give a presentation without preparation and practice. Even the best don’t wing it – that’s why they’re so good.

3. Get Feedback. Practice by itself won’t work unless you get feedback.

4. Master the techniques. The best presenters have mastered these techniques:

  • They use stories to connect on an emotional level.
  • The use of media.
  • Audience engagement. We retain 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, and 70% of what we discuss with others. Look for opportunities to engage your audience.
  • Questions. Always save time for them. Anticipate and prepare for the tough ones.

5. Learn from the best. There are learning opportunities daily if you look for them: movies, YouTube, Conferences, meetings, church and politics.

This is just a “Readers Digest” version of Dan’s article. I would encourage you to read it in its entirety and subscribe to his blog through your RSS Reader for some great tips on Leadership:  Can a Poor Presenter be a Great Leader?

What’s your opinion? Cast your vote in this twtpoll: Can you be a great leader and not be a great presenter?

Additional posts regarding agency leadership that may be of interest:


About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

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