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Presentation Thinking

Presentation Thinking

By GhostRanch Communications
Mikey and his presentation pals in and out of GhostRanch Communications have officially embarked upon a quest to become better storytellers. As we dive into this journey, tugging every thread to step up our presentation game along the way, we will be sharing our findings, right here on this special little podcast we call Presentation Thinking™ — we'd love for you to join us.

New episodes every Thursday morning (US time).

Presented by GhostRanch Communications, a presentation design agency.
Head to to punch up your pitch today.
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#29. “Rags to Riches” - 7 Basic Plots (Presentation Book Club)
#2 of Christopher Booker’s The 7 Basic Plots is the tried and true Story Shape: "Rags To Riches." From Cinderella to The Sandlot, we love cheering for the underdog moving up in the world. But WHY and HOW is this Story Shape so effective? How can we channel Remy the Ratatouille rat in your own life?? Mikey and Molly discuss all this Bippity Boppity Boo.
August 11, 2022
#28. "Overcoming the Monster" - 7 Basic Plots (Presentation Book Club)
Can all stories be categorized into 7 different plots? That’s what English journalist & writer Christopher Booker spent 34 years researching for his mega-book, The 7 Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. In honor of GhostRanch’s 7th birthday (August 2nd!), we’re excited to dive into the first plot of this 7-part series, “Overcoming the Monster.” In a Disney context, an “Overcoming the Monster” story is the threat of perpetual winter taking over in Frozen. In our PrezThinking world, this might be “Death By PowerPoint” or bullet points. How can these story arcs work for us? And what can we learn from applying them to work? Let’s find out.
August 04, 2022
#27. Stories from A Presentation Pioneer - Phil Charron of Think Company
Phil Charron, Executive Vice President of Think Company, is a presentation pioneer. From helping put on PowerPoint presentations when physical slides still had to be switched manually to joining the UX design world as it was being invented, Phil truly has a holistic view of the evolution of presentations and design. What was it like to see PowerPoint change the landscape of presentations? What’s his perspective, having been both the line-level producer AND the client? And how, exactly, did he get electrocuted helping with a presentation?? A true storyteller, Phil is chock-full of hilarious anecdotes. Tune in for an insightful conversation on the past, present and future of the world of Presentation Thinking. Full show notes HERE.
July 28, 2022
#26. Your Story Is Your Strategy: What we’ve learned from Andy Raskin.
Andy Raskin is a strategic storytelling evangelist. For Mikey and Molly, his work was a gateway into the thriving ecosystem that is Presentation Thinking. From his in-person appearances to an online article gone viral, he emphasizes that your story IS your strategy—and it’s important to leverage it. Learn along with us how to use your story and invite people to join in your journey.
July 21, 2022
#25. "Editor Will" on Presentation Thinking, Podcasts & Story Pirates
For our 25th “Quarter Century” episode, we brought in the reason our Presentation Thinking pod has stayed consistent—our brilliant editor, Will Kommor. Will is an audio and editing guru, and has a lot to share about what he’s learned from Presentation Thinking, the podcasting process, and being a media editor in general. We also think that improv and podcasting might be more alike than you think…tune in for serious laughs!
July 14, 2022
#24. Nspire: Breathing Life into Pediatric Innovation
Wadsworth Williams and the Nspire team are leading the charge in developing more efficient and comfortable nasal cannulas (tubes that help deliver oxygen) for babies. A low-cost commodity with potential for huge impact, Wadsworth has so much to say about innovation in the pediatric space, how to focus a pitch per audience while also sticking to their core mission—putting the patient first. Receiving first prize in the Life Science & Medical Innovation Category at the VentureCat competition, designer Grace Morris also joins us to discuss how this blend of science and emotion translated into a winning deck.
July 07, 2022
#23. Founder Series: Zuri Fertility’s pitch to help couples everywhere
Zuri Fertility founders Blair Matthews and Giuliana Zaccardelli are on a mission to help couples everywhere who are struggling with infertility. Voted the “Audience Favorite” of the VentureCat 2022 Startup competition, they join the 'cast to chat about how they met, mistakes they’ve made & the real-life experiences that have fueled their real-life solution—an app that helps people connect with clinics and navigate the tricky journey that is infertility. GhostRanch designer Emily Pantoja joins as well to discuss how this project translated into a deck. It’s a personal journey, going through infertility. In making it public, Blair and Giuliana are going to help couples everywhere. An installment of our “Founder Series” guaranteed to inspire.
June 30, 2022
#22. Founder Series: Inside InfernoGuard's Winning Pitch
Inside InfernoGuard’s winning pitch and one founder’s plan to prevent wildfires. Kevin Kaspar joins Presentation Thinking to discuss his founder journey for InfernoGuard—a device that detects and reports wildfire conditions to first responders and land-owners before they get out of control. We are lucky enough to be connected to the Northwestern University startup competition called VentureCat—even luckier that one of GhostRanch’s designers (Lola Lopez) helped to create the WINNING pitch for InfernoGuard. We talk all things pitching (and bombing) and what the plan is for such an important device to receive funding and awareness. Only YOU (and InfernoGuard) can prevent forest fires!
June 16, 2022
#21. Georgia O’Keeffe’s Storytelling through art and life
Georgia O’Keeffe was a badass artist and desert legend. Dare we say…the Shakespeare of the Southwest?! Writers aren’t the only ones that tell stories — there is much to be learned from the art world and Georgia’s impact on it. In our Presentation Thinking journey, we want to understand & learn from storytellers of ALL varieties to better understand what about their work and the way they presented it is so memorable and important. Join us in our obsession with this icon that inspired GhostRanch.
June 09, 2022
#20. Finding our niche in the world of webinars
Look Ma, we did a webinar! We dipped our toes into the world of webinars a few weeks ago and, thanks to the creative and strategic genius of GhostRanch Creative Director Dave Sheets, it went even better than we imagined! We zero-ed in on a hyper-specific topic—Cover Slides. What to put on them, how to cater to your audience and why it matters more than you think. None of us had any experience in producing a webinar, so in sharing our own process of piecing this project together, we hope to help those figuring out their webinar sweet spot as well.
June 02, 2022
#19. Why do PIXAR movies make us cry? (Animator Matthew Luhn talks storytelling in business)
If you’ve ever seen the first few minutes of the PIXAR movie UP!, you’re very aware that stories have the capacity to move you to tears. PIXAR animator Matthew Luhn might be the one to blame for this. Having worked on a few classics such as Toy Story, Ratatouille & The Incredibles, Luhn shares in a 2017 TED Talk what it is that makes stories like this so successful—and how we can we apply that to our own work and life. For Mikey and Molly, this is a breakthrough episode. We’re seeing patterns in the story structures our favorites are talking about and connecting some significant dots. A TED Talk not to be missed and a discussion that is sure to stir up your PIXAR nostalgia. Full show notes HERE.
May 26, 2022
#18. Presentation Book Club: Made to Stick (Part 3)
Part 3, the closing chapter, of our Made to Stick book report/breakdown/book club is HERE. Frodo is ready to destroy the ring and we’re ready to discuss the “E” and “S” in Chip & Dan Heath’s “SUCCESs” checklist for a sticky story—Emotions and Stories. These components are so central to storytelling that many examples often go hand-in-hand. It’s a bit of a “Chicken or the Egg” debate: What comes first—the emotions or the story? How do you appeal to someone’s self-interest? How do you spot a good story?? Why is it that we all remember Jared’s Subway story??? Brothers Heath have the answers and Mikey and Molly have the spark notes. Listen to Part 1 on “Simplicity” HERE Listen to Part 2 on Unexpected, Concrete and Credible HERE
May 19, 2022
#17. Presentation Book Club: Made to Stick (Part 2)
Dear listeners, welcome back to Book Club. We’re making our way through Chip & Dan Heath’s Made to Stick — a book dissecting all the factors that make certain messages and stories STICK. And there’s a lot of unpack! So, not unlike other greats such as JRR Tolkien or the makers of Die Hard, we’ve split this into multiple parts. (Listen to Part 1 on “Simplicity” HERE!) Part 2 covers “Unexpected”, “Concrete” and “Credible” on the SUCCESs checklist for story stickiness. Need help in one of these areas? Tons of great examples and Heath brother-approved insight await. “SUCCESs checklist” Simplicity Unexpectedness Concreteness Credibility Emotions Stories
May 12, 2022
#16. What’s the shape of a great story? Nancy Duarte gives us the answers
[Disclaimer: This is not a Nancy Duarte interview. One day it will be.] Ever wonder what the SHAPE of a story looks like? Our “Patron Saint of Stories” Nancy Duarte AKA CEO/Founder of Duarte, Inc. has done the research to show us just that. In her first viral ~2008 TED Talk, Duarte shows off her analysis of several Communication Greats (ahem, Steve Jobs, MLK…) to prove there’s a science—an ebb and flow—in how information and stories are presented. Memorable communication follows a pattern. And for our humble Storytelling Study Club, we’re anxious to learn from those footsteps.
May 05, 2022
#15. “Will you be sharing these slides?” Steve Sheets helps with the age-old Pitch Problem
This week we're working through a hyper-specific Pitch Problem and there was no better man to chat to than our Technical Director at GRC, Mr. Steve Sheets. Efficiency-obsessed, he wants you to have an easier time editing your decks. He wants you to befriend the Notes tool in PowerPoint. And he wants you to have something more than a file link to share for the inevitable "Will these slides be shared afterwards?" client question arises.
April 28, 2022
#14. Presentation Book Club: Made to Stick (Part 1)
If you’re a Malcom Gladwell The Tipping Point fan, then you will definitely be interested in Made to Stick. Brothers Chip and Dan Heath are a pair of smartie-pants siblings who have spent their lives trying to nail down the perfect recipe for why some stories are forgotten and how certain ideas STICK. And as evidenced by this book, they’ve landed on an effective formula. Their “SUCCESs checklist” makes up the flow for developing a Sticky Story. Simplicity Unexpectedness Concreteness Credibility Emotions Stories It’s so chock-full of examples that resonate that Mikey and I decided to divvy up our chat about the book. In this episode, we discuss the first (and one of the hardest) parts of the sticky process—Simplicity. We’ll talk about what a “Commander’s Intent” is, where it came from, and why Proverbs really are the Golden Rule. Let’s read, together!
April 21, 2022
#13. On-site Event Presentation Design: Notes from the road
Breece Justice is one of our top-notch Presentation Designers on the GhostRanch Communications team. When a client recently entrusted her with the task of traveling to an in-person conference to ensure their high stakes keynotes went according to plan, we couldn’t wait to hear the #PresentationThinking deets. Taking slides from a virtual setting to the stage comes with its own set of design and storytelling challenges. From a post-COVID perspective to tactical on-site tips, “Breezy” joins the pod to share how it all went down as the “Wizard behind the curtain.” Full show notes HERE! 
April 14, 2022
#12. Prez Olympics - How to prep for your presentation like an athlete
What’re the Olympics for Presentation Design? It wasn’t in Beijing, but the TechPoint Mira Awards in Indianapolis are what Mikey calls “a rite of passage for Indy tech people.” We’re super proud to share that Mikey’s beloved presentation agency/brainchild, GhostRanch Communications (GRC), was a nominee for the 2022 Mira Awards’ “Service Partner of the Year.” We don’t know if he won a medal (YET!) but in this episode, we’ll get into how GRC got nominated, what he did to prepare—and how he heavily relied on a “Presentation Taper” strategy. (Trademark pending). Basically, it’s the strategy where you “cram and plan” early and then ease off—give your mind muscle a break. Know that you know your shit. If you’ve ever had to present to a panel or are in the process of prepping something big, this is the episode for you.
April 07, 2022
#11. TED Talkin': You Are Contagious—now what to do about it?
In her 2017 viral TED Talk, “You Are Contagious”, Vanessa Van Edwards teaches us that our emotions and feelings are contagious—and what to do about it. A human communication expert and renowned public speaker, Edwards takes us through the verbal, non-verbal and even EMOTIONAL ways that we can spread ideas, thoughts and feelings. (And, of course, we get into the structure of her talk). So. How can we use the power of these micro-communications in our presentations? Our work in general? Our LIFE!? As you can see, we’re excited. We’ll let Vanessa’s words and our geeking out do the rest of the talking. Full show notes HERE!
March 31, 2022
#10. Presentation Book Club: "The Tipping Point," revisited.
Fresh off the PrezThinking Reading List! You’ve probably seen it on your philosopher college friend’s bookshelf—Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. We wanted to revisit why this book that was written in the year 2000 caused such a scene—and what we can still takeaway from it today. Though we do think Gladwell’s breakthrough book would be wildly different if it took into account all of the social media and influencer-esque changes of present, his core ingredients that lead to a cultural “tipping point” remain especially useful to Presentation Thinkers. Listen here to join our Book Club and go ahead and tick it off your reading list too. See full show notes HERE.
March 24, 2022
#9. Founder Series: Spirit Sox USA's Lisa Riggs
For this episode, we’re kicking off a series called Founder Stories where we get to talk with founders directly. The folks that are putting pen to paper, their idea in motion, or practicing their pitch in the mirror. To kick us off, Mikey got connected to Lisa Riggs of Spirit Sox USA. From getting laughed at and told “no” to Trade show experiences to getting connected to the ROYAL FAMILY through a non-profit, Lisa is rocking her biz and navigating the ups and downs and continued learning. Let’s get into it! Spirit Sox USA
March 17, 2022
#8. The Artist's Way; A Presenter's Toolbox
Published in 1992, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron has withstood the test of time. Groups around the world still actively participate in her 12 week “Creative Recovery” journey, including Molly - who shares her experience of the process with us on the pod. Modeled after 12 step recovery programs, Julia’s setup of the book, its various journal prompts and group ethos is a Presentation Thinking lesson in of itself. And the takeaways for anyone—creatives, founders, marketers, or any combo of those things—go DEEP.  Find out about the benefits (and the annoyance) of Morning Pages, how to go on Artist Dates and what the hell a “Creativity Contract” is. What’s in the Spice Cabinet? We’re so proud to tout that GhostRanch is nominated for the 23rd Annual Mira Awards honoring “Best in Tech” in Indiana!!! Look for our name under “Service Partner of the Year”. *blushes* Austin Kleon - Molly describes him as a “cool artist writer doodler guy.” If you’re looking for fun and inspiring and easy to skim content, his newsletter is A+, the books are fun as hell to “read” (tons of illustrations), and I’m sure his Patreon is worth the money. Where to find an Artist’s Way group of your own, you ask? Here’s a list of Meetups Online facilitator Collective Commons runs an ongoing group with a Slack channel! A Facebook group if that’s your digital community of choice LinkedIn (the German one seems bigger if you’re fluent!) Julia’s advice on starting a “Creative Cluster” to Do It Yourself! Her online video course is available HERE Stay tuned for the PrezThinking version of this creative experience!!
March 10, 2022
#7. Presentation Skills in Non-Profit Places
You ever take a career tangent that feels like a full 180 turn until you realize all the skills you learned up until that point are the reason you got there?? Such was the case for friend of the 'cast Molly Geoghegan upon jumping from marketing to the human rights and non-profit space—and flexing her “Presentation Thinking skills” all along the way. In this episode, Molly returns to The Ranch (GhostRanch) to let us know what she’s been doing since the Come Sell Away podcast docked its humble ship a few years ago.  And where we're headed with all that experience now...
March 03, 2022
#6. TED Talkin': Matt Abrahams tells us about "Speaking Up Without Freaking Out"
Mikey and Bethany watched Matt Abrahams's, and then talk about it. Seriously, go watch his Ted Talk, the guy is a brilliant communicator, and gives a bunch of tactical tips on how to manage your public speaking anxieties. The talk:
February 10, 2022
#5. We Break Down Canva's How I Built This Episode
I know, it would be cooler if we had actually interviewed Canva co-founder and CEO, Melanie Perkins, for this episode. But for now, we're just going to listen to someone else's interview and talk about it. Besides, Guy Raz is pretty decent at what he does. So, this is where we are in our storytelling rabbit hole so far, we are taking in a whole ton of content and trying to figure out what it all means. This week, we listened to an amazing episode of How I Built This featuring Melanie Perkins, from back in 2019, who paints a colorful picture of her journey pitching (and pitching and pitching...) her new concept for desktop publishing, Canva, to a whole lot of investors back around 2012. Bethany and I break down what we took away from Melanie's stories and discuss some takeaways that we hope we can apply to our own approaches to pitching. Enjoy! 
January 20, 2022
#4. Mini Masterclass: Daniel Pink on Sales & Persuasion
Mikey and Bethany watch Daniel Pink's Masterclass on Sales and Persuasion, and then talk about it.
January 13, 2022
#3. The André with a Thousand Faces
Friend of the program, André Fernandes, Director of Strategy at GhostRanch Communications, joins the show to discuss the most recent book he's pulled off of his massive stack of storytelling reads. This week, Andre gives us a Cliffs Notes view of the "granddaddy of storytelling," Joseph Campbell's 1949, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces."  Big thanks to Andre for being our proxy and digging into beasts like Campbell so can do other stuff. Deeper down the storytelling rabbit hole we go. Enjoy!
December 23, 2021
#2. Mini Masterclass: Judd Apatow's take on pitching comedy
Mikey and Bethany watch Judd Apatow's Masterclass teaching comedy. Well, not even the whole thing, just the chapter on pitching. It's a 13 minute chapter, and we somehow talk about it for like double that. Dig!
December 02, 2021
#1. Down the Storytelling Rabbit Hole We Go
Mikey introduces what is to come with Presentation Thinking, aka Adventures in Storytelling, aka Pitchin' Ain't Easy. It's a cool ten minutes and change, quickly setting up the what and why of this flavorful podcast. Let's start pulling some storytelling threads and get into this goodness!
November 30, 2021