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What's Your Presentation Worth?


It doesn't matter whether it's a raise, a promotion, or a large capital expenditure. Public speaking pays. Are you losing money every time you speak? Do you know why? You can be dressed to the nines, but a Brooks Brothers suit won't help if your presentation doesn't match your million dollar look. I remember the first time I met Cathy (not her real name). Her manager, a Vice-President, called me in to coach her. Cathy was having difficulty getting promoted.

When I met Cathy, I was surprised. She could have been on the cover of Forbes magazine. Cathy exuded executive presence visually. The challenge was when she presented her ideas to senior management, she immediately lost credibility. By not presenting a strong recommendation, and using uptalk and wimpy words, Cathy's value was diminished. As a result of my coaching, she learned to speak powerfully and was promoted to VP. Now that's a return on investment.

Another client of mine was a CEO of a multi national healthcare company. His challenge was to convince management to invest in a  $300 million facility in Europe. It would take 5 years from beginning construction to licensed facility. Clinical trials for a vaccine were 3 years away. This was an investment with high risk. He didn't even know if the vaccine would work. The CEO's presentation had to be clear, understandable, and effective in persuading management that the risk was worth it. The CEO got the funding. The facility was built. The product sold over $1 billion per year.

He said, “Without that presentation and convincing the executive committee to invest, we wouldn’t have the product.” That's MAJOR ROI!

Speaking leads to influence and influence leads to success. It's about how you articulate your value. How much money is left on the table due to a weak presentation?  A family member worked for a doctor's office handling insurance claims. She wanted a raise but wasn't having success. She realized the claims were being denied because they contained the wrong codes.

So she diligently nudged the doctors to apply the correct codes and helped them to do just that. The result was that fewer claims were being rejected. I howled, "You mean to tell me they are collecting on more claims because of you? You're directly impacting their bottom line! You're increasing their cash flow! Tell them that." She did, and she got her raise. Again, there is an ROI from effective presentations.

It doesn't matter whether you seek a raise, a promotion, or approval on a large capital expenditure: public speaking pays. The payoffs for you, the speaker, are increasing sales, earning a raise, getting a promotion, receiving investor capital, and more. And when you have excellent presentation skills you may even be paid to speak. Ka Ching Ka Ching.

Are you in the middle of a merger? Are you launching a new product? Do you have to give a presentation to your sales force?  You won't have a second chance. When your presentation is make or break, contact DiResta Communications, Inc.

Speak at Your Own Risk: When Public Speaking is a Lost Opportunity

Speaking is the new competitive advantage. At least that's what I told my audiences until last week. I was excited to attend a wellness conference during the weekend in New York City. The keynote speaker was a celebrity I admired. But what was more exciting were the topics. Most of the speakers were doctors, dentists, and health professionals. The presenters spoke for 20 minutes as in a TED talk format and the presentations continued non-stop throughout the day.

Some of the research was cutting edge and I was eager to learn from the presenters. My enthusiasm quickly turned to boredom after sitting through the first few presentations. Clearly, the presenters were subject matter experts with impressive credentials. But they quickly sacrificed their credibility when they stepped up to the platform. What a lost opportunity! Here are three mistakes that were consistent among the speakers.

1. Using the Microphone Ineffectively

Almost every speaker held the microphone at chest level or too far away from their mouth. When the audience can't hear, they tune out. It also makes the subject matter expert look like an amateur. A microphone should be held no further than four inches below the mouth. My recommendation to the event planner was to provide an attached microphone or require a rehearsal with the hand held mic.

2. Being Speaker-Centered

This is all too common in business. I've experienced it in every kind of speaking situation including sales presentations. There was one woman in particular who spent most of the time telling her story. Not only was it too long; it was all about me, myself, and I. Here's the 411 on the audience. They don't care about you! They're interested in what you and your information can do for them. Yes, tell your story. We want to know you on a personal level. But keep it brief and move on to provide value.

It's not difficult to be listener-centered. I've demonstrated in one minute or less how to take any subject and create a listener-centered opening that speaks to the listener's self interest. It's not about you. It's about them! Chapter 7 in Knockout Presentations reveals the process of Listener-Centered Communication. It's powerful.

3. Bad Timing

Both the presenter and the coordinator are culpable when time commitments are not kept. The reason speakers run out of time is a) they have too much material b) they didn't rehearse out loud. One speaker was telling an interesting story and realized she had two minutes left. She stopped in the middle of the story and quickly flipped through to the end of the PowerPoint slides. The presentation lost impact. And this was a subject I really wanted to hear. At this point, my friend leaned over and whispered, "Diane, this is a real opportunity for you." (Not a good sign).

Were there other mistakes? Yes. But these were the most common errors. Were there any good presenters? Yes. I can think of two, maybe three. The celebrity keynote was excellent. It was obvious that she had a lot of public speaking experience. What is the lesson here? Poor presentation skills do not motivate an audience to action. I didn't approach any of the speakers after hearing them present on stage.

There was a silver lining, though. I won the grand prize - a Vitamix blender! So all was not lost - except the opportunity for the presenters to build their brand and increase their business.

Executive Presence: Fall Makeovers and Tips for Women


Diane with James Palazza and Becky from CHANEL I co-hosted my first event with 85 Broads, and it was a smashing success. The topic, Get Your Executive Presence On, received rave reviews. The event was sponsored by CHANEL and Saks Fifth Avenue, and held at CHANEL's education center on East 57th St in New York City.

Adam applying Dianes makeup at CHANEL

The evening began with networking and fall makeovers. Each woman received a makeup application and instruction. When everybody looked beautiful, we gathered to hear my presentation about 8 keys to Executive Presence for women. The audience learned ways that women can be heard, look like leaders, and own the room.





diane speaking at CHANEL

CHANEL provided a special ambiance, with lighting, wine and delicious hors d'oeuvres. They provided a skincare station and a fragrance and chocolate pairing station. The networking continued as CHANEL was cleaning up - people didn't want to leave.



Here's what some attendees had to say:

I didn't think I would learn anything new, but I did. Diane is incredible. The things she shared with people are life-changing." -Judy

This, for me, is one of the best events I've attended." -Sophie

diane with 85 broads members

Diane gave examples and insights that had the whole audience captivated." -Alison

I've been to so many seminars and trainings on leadership and thought I'd heard everything about how to be an effective public speaker. But Diane's presentation gave me tips I never heard before." - Carrie


Press Release: Diane DiResta to Speak at 85 Broads Fall Networking Event in NYC, Sept 25, 2013

For immediate release

DiResta will Speak about Executive Presence and Presentation

Fall networking event - for subscribing Power Circle and Investor level members of:

85 Broads

New York, NY (September 23, 2013) – At this 85 Broads fall networking event (link for members), Power Circle member Diane DiResta, Founder of DiResta Communications and author of Knockout Presentations, will present her work on executive presence, and top make-up artists at the Chanel Salon will show you the new color trends for Fall.

DiResta works with emerging leaders and executives to develop executive presence and gravitas. DiResta says, “At a certain level, it’s not what you know, it’s your leadership and ability to influence. Executive presence is difficult to define; it involves good presentation skills, speaking with conviction, decisiveness, self-confidence and a polished image.”

Click here to read full Press Release.

What's Executive Presence Gotta Do With It?


What is executive presence? And why does it matter? You know it when you see it. But it's difficult to describe. At some point a career will be stalled because the person doesn't look, speak, or act like a leader. That's when a company will call me to work on the leader's executive presence. Executive presence is the tipping point for getting promoted. How do you get it?  Watch this video to learn more.

Delete These 3 Annoying Words in 2013

Resolve to delete three deadly words from your vocabulary this year. We make resolutions on January 1st and then we go back to our usual habits in less than a month. But you can't afford to let your communication and presentation skills slide. Why? It's a new game. It's tougher, more competitive, and harder than ever to be heard above the noise. Your speech can undermine your success in an interview, a sales presentation, or a promotion opportunity. And it can sabotage your leadership. Jargon, non-words, and slang will not serve you.

According to a Marist poll, the most annoying word in 2012 was "whatever", followed by "like', and "you know" was a close third. The word "whatever" topped the list for a third year. Other annoying words included "twitterverse" and "gotcha".

People under the age of 45 in the Northeast were most annoyed by the word "like" while  "you know" was offensive to people over 45 years old. Go figure.

Regardless of demographics, using these words will, like, undermine your executive presence, you know? So choose your words carefully during your next communication or presentation. When tempted to use these three words in presentations, hit the delete button and pause. It's up to you.  Whatever.


Press Release: Diane DiResta Gets Her Executive Presence On at Saks Fifth Avenue on 12-12-12

For Immediate Release

DiResta Teaches Women How to Amp Up Their Executive Presence

Diane DiResta and James Palazza at Saks Fifth AvenueNew York, NY (Dec 12, 2012) -- Diane DiResta, CEO of DiResta Communications and author of Knockout Presentations, co-hosted a holiday event for executive women sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. The title of the event was, Get Your Executive Presence On, and included a short presentation from DiResta, a preview of Tahari's elegant winter line, and free Chanel makeovers for the women in attendance.

DiResta works with emerging leaders and executives to develop executive presence and gravitas. DiResta says, "At a certain level, it's not what you know, it's your leadership and ability to influence. Executive presence is difficult to define; it involves good presentation skills, speaking with conviction, decisiveness, self-confidence and a polished image."


You're Dressed for Success, But Is Your Presentation a Mess?

Carol was a bright, up and coming assistant vice president in a health care company. She was definitely dressed for success. Visually, she looked like an executive. The issue was when Carol presented to senior management...

Got to Be Good Lookin' Cause It's So Hard to See...

Remember the John Lennon lyrics, "Got to be good lookin' cause it's so hard to see?"Looks are important for both men and women. Yes, women are unfairly judged and held to a higher standard. Female candidates are scrutinized for every new hairstyle which is not the case for male politicians. That being said, I tell my clients and audiences to honor the power of the visual. First impressions are visual and almost instantaneous. We make decisions about leadership, trustworthiness, success level, and competence based on how others appear visually. Your stage presence doesn't depend on having a beautiful face or washboard abs. It does depend on how you carry yourself, what you wear, and how you look in the clothes you wear.

You are your own personal brand. Top companies invest outrageous amounts of capital in creating a brand and a big part of the brand is the logo, color, and packaging. Most people would perceive a Tiffany box as having more value than a brown parcel post. Real estate agents and sellers spend time and money restaging a home and manicuring the landscape because it increases value. Even animals in the wild groom themselves. Companies call me in to work with their leaders on executive presence. They don't present themselves as leaders and as a result they are not taken seriously and can't get to the next level. Wouldn't it be great if people could get past your looks and see the substance beneath the surface? Yes, it would but it isn't happening.

Appearance counts. Does that mean you need to invest in plastic surgery to look good? No. Is Hollywood anorexia a standard we want to uphold for our young girls and women? No. Should we be slaves to fashion? No. But when your look is outdated people think your ideas are old fashioned. If you look haggard, you won't be attractive on a job interview because energy sells. So, aim for good health, feel good about yourself, and dress well. Make sure your visual impression is consistent with your personal brand. When you step out on that platform it's showtime and you'd better look good.

How to Lose A Job or A Sale in 7 Seconds or Less

Has this happened to you? You go to a networking meeting. Someone approaches you who is well dressed and well spoken. They extend their hand and all of a sudden you find yourself holding a wet fish. Yuk! Nothing will sabotage a good first impression faster than a limp, weak handshake. Don't get me started! I talk about handshakes in every presentation, speech, seminar and coaching session because it's so important.

I coach leaders on executive presence and work with executives on their interviewing skills. If you have a weak handshake you've just conveyed a negative impression. First impressions count. You may not have another opportunity to influence. Your presentation is your brand and your handshake is an extension of your brand. Would you trust a leader who didn't have a firm handshake?

Yes, men and women shake hands differently. I tell men that women will not break if they shake their hands with some pressure. I tell women that men are not there to kiss their fingertips. A handshake is an equal opportunity communication. It's the same for both genders.

A handshake is a little thing that anyone can master in minutes. So why is it that even after practicing a firm handshake people revert back to being a wet fish? They don't realize that the real message is in the body language and not the words. You can say all the right things in an interview or sales call. You can have an outstanding resume or product. But if you shake hands like a wimp that is what they remember. It's an emotional reaction and people will be swayed by their feelings.

When my nephew Michael was 14, we brought him to a golf course to get a job as a caddy. Michael, being shy, reached out and offered a weak handshake. The caddy master gave him his first lesson in life. He said, "Shake my hand like you mean it." From then on Michael gave a firm handshake. It's a little thing and as I always say, it's the little things that make the greatest impact. So if you want to make a good first impression, shake hands like you mean it!

Does Your Executive Image Need Polishing?

Situation: Robert was a brilliant executive who worked for a health care company. But he was not projecting a strong leadership image because of his rambling, academic style and his extensive technical vocabulary that tended to alienate his listeners. Not only was Robert not connecting with his peers, visually he didn't look like a leader. He wore a plaid shirt, a sweater vest, and casual shoes. The brilliance his boss recognized in him was not shining through to others.

Solution: As part of the Exec-U-Lead coaching program, Robert learned to use an executive summary approach and to speak in snappy sound bites. By using simpler, shorter words his message had more impact on his audiences. Robert was persuaded to change his look from weekend casual to corporate coat and tie, so he could look more like an executive.

Result: Robert was able to change the image he projected to others - both visually and verbally. He was able to gain respect and be acknowledged for his leadership. Today, he looks and sounds like a leader and he's taking his team to new heights.

They're Just Not That Into You

I've coached a lot of speakers and I've seen more speakers than I can count. And I've discovered that there is more to great speaking than excellent platform skills. We've all seen speakers who have perfect timing, never say um, have a well organized speech and exude confidence on stage. Yet, there's something the audience doesn't like about them. It could be air of arrogance, they may appear slick, or their words sound pretentious. If the audience can't connect they don't like the speaker. After working with so many clients and speaking to numerous groups I started to realize that people's success depended on how well they were liked. According to a Yale University study, people gain success not by aggression but by being nice. Being respected is good; being liked is even better. Juries award higher compensation to people they like. The most likable candidate usually wins an election. During the Democratic primary,Hillary Clinton's likability surfaced as an issue. Obama was perceived as more likable and won. During tough economic times, when a manager has to choose who gets a pink slip it won't be the the employee who is most liked. Employers hire people they like, clients do business with people they like, and sometimes likable students may even get a higher grade. So, if you want your message to be heard, if you want to influence, you've got to be liked.

What is likability? Find out in this video.

We Do Judge A Book By It's Cover

Today I was leaving from the office to attend a networking luncheon. It was a warm, sunny day so I decided to take the bus and walk a few blocks to the hotel. As I was exiting the bus, a sixty-five year old man leaned over and said,"Are you wearing Chanel?" I paused for a moment thinking he was referring to my perfume. I realized that he was admiring my suit. Sadly, I told him it wasn't Chanel but accepted the question as a compliment. I was a little early so I stopped into a clothing boutique. As I entered the store, the male security guard said, "That's a nice suit." I thanked him and wondered how I had garnered two compliments in five minutes. Once I arrived at the event there was 30 minutes of networking. A woman passed by and admired my suit. Well, that's not surprising. Women are fashion conscious and it makes for good small talk. After all, New York City is a fashion hub. At around 5:30 p.m. I left to meet my cousin at Starbucks at Rockefeller Center. A woman stopped me on the street and told me how nice my suit was. What was going on? Four complete strangers of both genders complimented my attire. Was something in the air? I don't think so. I've had people admire the suit before. It must be that it's an attractive suit. And what does that have to do with presentations?

You are a personal brand.The way you speak, how you carry yourself, and what you wear are signaling and communicating your brand, your style. It's your presentation to the world. And... while we can't judge a book by its cover, we often do make judgments about how people look. It takes seven seconds or less to make a first impression. People will actually discount what you say to believe what they see. That's the impact of the visual!

When you're in a book store, the first thing that makes you pick up a book is the cover. If it's not attractive, it stays on the shelf. Marketers spend thousands of dollars in research to test the right packaging design. People buy the bottle before they buy the perfume.

Your audience is making judgments before you begin to speak. Does your visual presentation support your message? Do you look credible? Do you carry yourself with confidence? They say that clothes don't make the man. Well, from my experience it sure helps when you wear a nice suit.

Presenting Yourself for the Job Interview

A job interview is a business presentation. You have the opportunity to learn about new companies, new positions, and network with new people. The first step is to equalize the power. And that involves an attitude adjustment. The power should be 50-50. The interviewer is sizing you up AND you're sizing up the company. Don't give all the power to the interviewer. You decide if the company meets your criteria. Once you've balanced the power, here are some tips for presenting a positive image:

Prepare and rehearse. Anticipate difficult questions and prepare a strategy for answering them. Practice your answers out loud until you feel confident.

Know your message. What are your top three strengths, abilities and accomplishments? Know them cold and be able to back them up with examples.

Give a firm handshake. This is your first impression. A weak handshake creates a negative image, as does a bone crushing grip. A firm handshake combined with direct eye contact spells confidence. The handshake should not differ for men and women. Use the same confident and firm grasp.

Create chemistry. Make some small talk to break the ice. Then observe the interviewer and pace his or her energy. Does the interviewer like to get down to business? Then sit up and get to the point. Is he or she a storyteller? Then slow down and give more examples and vignettes. We like people who are most like us. A University or Michigan study determined that when hiring managers the formula was 60% chemistry and 40% skills.

Think and Pause. An interview is not a free association test. Think before you answer. Pause and wait for a response. Don't rattle on at breakneck speed. Speed talking is a sign of nervousness.

Be enthusiastic and upbeat. Nothing sells like enthusiasm. A study by the University of Michigan revealed that when hiring managers, the formula was 60% chemistry and 40% skills. Eagerness and a positive attitude can compensate for a lack of experience.

Ask questions. Job candidates who don't ask questions are perceived as disinterested. Preplan some questions. In the event that the interviewer is extremely thorough, ask an industry question. Don't lead with salary and benefit questions.

Listen. This skill more than any other is the key to your success. Listen with your eyes. What's the body language telling you? Listen with your ears. What do you hear in the tone and words? Listen with your heart. What do you hear between the lines? What is not being said? Clarify and paraphrase what the interviewer said before answering the question. (To improve your listening ask about the Listening Styles Profile and the Listen and Sell audio tape at

Ask for the next step. Don't leave without knowing what's next. This is especially critical in sales jobs. The interviewer wants to see if you can ask for the order. If appropriate ask for the job. Express your interest and say, "Where do we go from here?" " What is the next step?" "When should I call you?"

Say thank you. Write a thank you note and mention something specific to each interviewer. Stay in touch. Follow-up may be the reason you finally land the job.

Copyright © Diane DiResta. All rights reserved.