Presentation Skills From Top Marketer Drayton Bird

Good marketing and advertising requires that you know how to effectively communicate your message in a way that is simple and understandable. Not only will you need to hone this skill in your campaigns, but you will also need to master presentation skills for both your co-workers/boss or clients. Whether you want to point out the latest marketing trends using power bi customer dashboard, pitch the latest social media strategies, or cue the teleprompter operator for the next chapter of your presentation, you are going to need to learn how to give a great presentation.

Many an ad executive has wondered about whether to read out text on slides during a presentation. Drayton Bird, former International Creative Director of the multinational ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, who has made hundreds of successful presentations, explains why reading it all out does not make sense. He also has something to say about keeping cool and the value of interaction.

Reading Presentation Slides

This is a no-no according to Bird. “This is boring, and implies your clients can’t read for themselves – no matter how much the experts say it helps you communicate better. In my view, either summarizing what the slide says or saying it in slightly different words, or commenting on it are all better ways of conveying the essence of a slide.”

What to Do When a Presentation is Interrupted

Often something will occur that interrupts the presentation. For instance, people come in and bring coffee and cakes. “Don’t keep talking – stop,” says Bird. Then the presenter can resume where he left off, and if possible, recap what he said before launching out again. According to, it’s important that you do not let the interruption throw you off as this will be seen as a sign of weakness. 

Presentation Skills: Quicken the Pace if the Audience Appears Bored

The presenter must pay attention to the reactions of his audience to his presentation. Interaction is important. If they look bored, he should quicken his pace; show greater enthusiasm; smile more often. Says Bird: “You’d be amazed how the simple act of smiling makes you seem more enthusiastic and likeable.”

Resist the Temptation to Prove the Audience Wrong

While presenting, the ad executive’s behavior is being scrutinized quite carefully. He must consider the effect he is having on his audience. According to Bird, “One common fault is to over-react. You may feel that one or two of your clients are attacking you, or making remarks which seem aggressive.

Resist the temptation to prove what idiots they are. You may score a cheap point, but lose the presentation. Others may see you as a bit of a smart arse. On the other hand, responding politely but intelligently to questions will win you good will amongst the audience. And if one of the clients is being aggressive, the others may begin to sympathize with you.”

Bird goes on to say that, in his experience, often a client’s motivations in a meeting may be quite other than those the presenter had anticipated. The client may not be aggressive, but simply so interested that he wishes to test the arguments put forth, or act as the devil’s advocate. Once convinced, such people often turn out to be the most enthusiastic supporters. According to the Coaching Institute, it’s important that you keep your cool at all times and never be wavered by what you think might be happening.

As a final note, Bird adds: “I truly believe that developing your presentation skills is vital if you wish to succeed in this business.”

Presentation Techniques From Drayton Bird

Presentation slides should only be summarized or commented on, instead of being read out. If a presentation is interrupted by someone bringing in coffee, the presenter must pause before continuing, and be sensitive enough to know whether the client is bored. At such times, a smile goes a long way. Calmness is an asset. On no account should the presenter overreact if he feels the client is being aggressive.This is the final article in an 11-part series on how to make successful presentations, based on Drayton Bird’s Commonsense Creative, previously only available to employees of Ogilvy & Mather worldwide. Readers might also enjoy articles about how to sell the creative work, how to present the work itself, and how to deal with nerves during a presentation.