Rand Fishkin knows how to give a presentation.

Over the past 3 years, he’s given almost 80 of them.

And more importantly, he’s usually rated as one of the best speakers of the event whenever he goes up to the podium. A top 3 speaker, more often than not. Frankly, that’s why we invited him to speak for us at the Growth Marketing Conference this year. That he’s a really likeable guy, as you’ll find out, doesn’t hurt either.

Now, you’re probably wondering how he does it. Ranking that highly over and over again – and at major conferences, too – just isn’t easy. That’s why it might surprise to you know that his strategy isn’t all that complicated. It’s not hard to pull off, actually – if you put the work in. And to be honest, I think you can do it.

As it turns out, Rand wrote a post recently about how to give a killer presentation. But I know time is hard to come by in our industry, so I’ll give you a high-level summary just in case you can’t spare any. Let’s get started.


  1. Use New Material

If you’re talking about strategies and tactics more than 20% of your audience already knows, you’re going to lose them. They’re not here for a remedial course; they want to learn something new. It’s that simple.

  1. Don’t Let Them Read Ahead

Limit your slides to 1 or 2 points. That’s it. And to be honest, we’d advise you to stick with just 1. You don’t want everybody in the room to quickly read through what you’re going to say – even if it’s just the topics – and spend the next minutes waiting for you to get through it. There’s really no drama in it either.

  1. Create Tension, Then Resolve It

Turns out, people like drama. And that includes your audience. So, take a problem and then tell a story about it. You can even make it kind of absurd – the world’s coming to an end if your newsletter doesn’t get opened! Then, tell everybody how you’re to fix it. And there’s your itinerary for your presentation. And who knows, you might get a call from HBO too.

  1. Engage Your Audience in Unusual Ways

Asking people to raise their hands – well, it doesn’t always work. Plenty of you probably didn’t do much of it in high school – I sure didn’t – and you probably haven’t learned to like it since then. So, ask your audience to search for something on their phones for a SEO presentation, or think about a situation – say a PR crisis – for a social media one. It’ll catch them a little off-guard, too. And that’s good – they’ll be listening.

  1. Be Controversial – But Back it Up

If you say something really out there – Facebook organic reach is dead! – people are going to pay attention. Even if it’s just to call you out. It’s a click-bait kind of tactic, sure, but it does keep eyes open. Just be sure you can actually support your claims with evidence. Facebook organic reach is very alive.

  1. Kill Bullet Points and Stock Photos

They’re ugly. They’re cluttered. They just exhaust everybody in your audience. You want to be visually appealing, of course, but don’t bludgeon the entire room with a wall of bullet point text or a big, fat piece of clipart. You’re not that cruel.

  1. Steal – but Say Thank You Too

Let’s just admit it – we all take things that aren’t ours from time to time. There’s only so many original ideas in the world, and sometimes other people explain them better than we ever could. That’s fine – as long as you credit where they came from and link back to whoever it is. They’ll get traffic from your audience. And trust me – they’ll forgive you.

  1. Use One of These 4 Templates
  1. Make your presentation a narrative story the whole way through, with lessons along the way.
  2. Tell a powerful story in the beginning – break for a list of tactics – then return to the story in the end.
  3. Make a list, starting and ending with your 2 strongest points.
  4. Use an emotional or funny analogy that ties your content together.
  1. Only Give Actionable Advice

Conceptual suggestions aren’t very good. Frankly, they suck. Your audience is there to get actionable tactics and strategies they can put to work as soon as they get back to the office. If you make the mistake of not giving them that, you’ll hear about it in your review.

  1. More Slides, Faster

Big, bloated slideshows are a thing of the past – if they were ever a thing at all. Break your presentation up. Stretch it all out. You won’t have to memorize as much and you won’t put everyone to sleep.

  1. Use Screenshots

Sometimes visuals are easy to find, and sometimes they’re not – especially if trying to figure out how to screenshot on ASUS laptop. And, like we said earlier, you want to avoid stock photos. Thankfully, you can always take a screenshot. You’ll be surprised how easily you can make them relevant.

  1. Vary Slide Speed, Voice Volume, & Emotion

You wouldn’t be monotone. Your presentation shouldn’t be either. You’ve heard that variety is the spice of life, and your life is marketing – right? – so you should really keep things lively. The more you change it up, the more people will stay engaged. Use the stage, and you will have a riveted audience!


  1. Use Examples Relevant to Your Audience

Find out who’s going to be attending your presentation. You can ask on Twitter or Facebook, and you can always speak to one of the event managers too. This is important, because it lets you figure out who your audience members work for – and what their marketing problems might be – so you can use those problems as your examples. It’ll give your presentation a more personal touch – and your reviews will reflect that.

And there you have it. Your 13 steps to becoming a great presenter.

They’re not so hard, are they?


If you have any points to add – or you just want to hear more about one of them – feel free to leave us a comment!