The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Donald Trump breaks many of the rules of presenting, but he gets the key stuff right. Love him or loathe him as a contender, he continues to top all of the polls, so he is doing something right.

Are there any lessons here for when we give our own presentations?

He is authentic when he speaks. There is no speechwriter grinding away in the background, polishing the prose to within an inch of its life.

Nor are there invisible prompters on the left and right to drip feed the speechwriter’s input.

He does have some notes, but he barely refers to them. He digresses, goes off on tangents, but the audience understands this is the price for being non-scripted—and they forgive him. He keeps their attention because he concentrates on his audience.

So let’s take the good bits and drop the rest. Be yourself; don’t ape anyone else. Be you, but try to be the professional you.

Focus on the audience, not on the technology, the laptop, the big screen behind you or your notes.

Trump has been getting a lot of practice lately. Prior to this run for the Republican Party nomination for president, he rarely made long public speeches.

Repetition is key to learning new skills, and seizing every chance to present is needed to improve our professional craft. Many people shy away from presenting because they lack confidence or are nervous.

There are techniques for overcoming nervousness, which can be learnt. By increasing the frequency of presenting, we gradually become more comfortable.

Trump’s messages can be quickly understood: Build a big wall; everyone is more cunning than we are; make America great again; read Trump: The Art of the Deal; it’s my own money so I don’t owe anybody; politicians are useless; I am rich and successful; I know how to get things done; I am not politically correct, etc.

He is derided as a demagogue, but as a speaker, he presents his ideas in such a way that we can remember them. Isn’t this what we also want with our audience?

Think back, though; how many key messages can you recall from the many business presentations you have heard? I would guess not many.

When we speak, we need to have clarity around the key points we want to get across in the time we have available. Taking on too much content (“death by PowerPoint”), nullifies the key messages we want to have resonate with the audience.

A major information dump is also a killer, especially when quoting lots of data. Overload destroys the communication.

Trump totally oozes self-confidence. Confidence certainly sells, and if he has any self-doubt about this new public speaking role for himself, he is certainly not sharing it with the audience.

We may not have that same degree of self-belief, or his billions, but we must exude confidence when speaking with our audience.

In Dale Carnegie, we bolster confidence through embracing the 3 E’s: We have Earned the right to speak, because we know our subject; we are Excited because of our positive feelings for the content; and we are Eager to share with our audience because we feel this will help them.

Employ the 3 E’s and you will become confident. Even if we are not super-confident at first, never ever show that to the audience—people buy speaker self-belief and our job is to provide it.

Trump tells stories. NBC begged me to sign up for The Apprentice new season; Carl Icahn told me he is ready to be my negotiator with China; I saw all of these Japanese cars in LA coming out of the biggest ship I have ever seen, etc.

He weaves these vignettes into his speech to highlight his key points. Storytelling works and, as he demonstrates, stories don’t have to be lengthy to be effective.

Sprinkle some real-life stories into your presentations to make the content come alive for your audience.

If a novice like Trump can be persuasive as a speaker, why can’t we? Study, adapt what works, hone skills, and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.