"For anyone seeking to set themselves and their ideas apart, this book is well worth the read. Eric Bergman’s techniques are a window to the future of this important human activity.”
One Bucket at a Time is based on the assumption that the only reason for bringing people together is to listen to someone share something of value.
“You can have a presentation without slides,” author Eric Bergman writes. “But you cannot have a presentation without a presenter. At its core, therefore, the effectiveness of any presentation can be measured by what makes it from the speaker’s vocal cords to the long-term memory of those in attendance.
“Once you understand that thought, it becomes evident that feeding into how people listen is the most critical presentation skill to develop.”
The seventy-six pages of One Bucket at a Time are organized into eight easy-to-read chapters to help presenters acquire and hone this skill:
- Prime the pump
- From tank to bucket to trough
- Avoid bucket overload
- Shape the tank
- Fill the bucket
- Top up the trough
- Tap the potential
- One final drop
The only way that happens, however, is if the audience engages working memory to transfer ideas from tank to trough, one idea at a time.
Working memory is the bucket. The challenge is that the bucket is incredibly small, more like a child’s sand bucket than a milk pail, and it’s easily overloaded. When that occurs, information spills out, never to be remembered.
Using a combination of research, common sense and experience, Bergman makes the case that the best way to fill the bucket is through a relaxed, conversational delivery. The audience needs silence, and lots of it, in order to empty one bucket before being ready to fill another.
While most presentations focus on attempting to teach others, Bergman’s approach is different. He advocates helping the audience teach themselves. The audience should have plenty of opportunity to ask questions, which are best answered clearly and concisely.
For Bergman, tapping the potential of presentations boils down to engagement, which he defines along a spectrum. Engagement begins when working memory passes ideas to long-term memory, one bucket at a time. “If that isn’t happening, nothing else matters,” he explains. At the other end of the spectrum audiences that are so engaged that they can accurately explain the presenter’s ideas to others—even months or years after the presentation has ended.
“Most presentations today are like playing tennis with someone who has a large basket of balls and isn’t going to stop serving until the basket is empty, regardless of whether you show any interest in hitting one back,” Bergman explains. “In such situations, if you came to practice service returns, you might be interested in playing along. But if you came to play a game of tennis, it won’t take long before you find something else to do.
“If the audience is reading, writing, texting, scanning their social media feed, sending an e-mail or reading a document, they cannot be listening. And, ultimately, if they’re not listening, what on earth is the point?”
One Bucket at a Time is available from Amazon, Kindle and Apple Books.