Last week, I sat in as a judge for presentations made by graduate students (MBA's and MSA's (Master's in Sports Administration)). This wasn't a full term class. It was actually a three day training session. The book the instructor used, Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story by Jerry Weissman is one that he had recommended to me last year. I finally read it a couple of months ago, and I must say, it's a dead-on accurate book. Forget the standard schlock you hear or read about presenting. Weissman, who is a former television producer, provides detailed explanations and detailed how-to's. His book is packed full of useful information on everything from why the story is so important, to various types of flow structure for the message, to proper usage and layout of slides, etc. The book is a great investment that is worth much more than the cost of the book. You'll never be able to watch a presentation again without asking yourself the preparation questions posed in this book.
Overall, the presentations and presenters were exceptional. It was impressive just how much they had all taken in from the instructor and the book. The work they did was very detailed, the slides were well-prepared and not merely a regurgitation of what they were saying.
One of the other class assignments required each student to come up with a 30 second elevator pitch about themselves. The idea was for them to have a way to introduce themselves to someone they wanted to meet in the industry if they were to run into that person. I think it's a brilliant idea. Too many people, including me, run-off at the mouth when someone asks them about themselves or when they try to explain the work they do (or have done). I know it's something I need to work on. My next self-improvement project is to prepare my own elevator pitch. It's definitely an exercise that anyone starting in the sports industry should also undertake.