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3 Presentation Skill Takeaways from Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

3 Presentation Skill Takeaways from Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

“You have to come out very, very strong to make sure that people know that you’re not going to waste their time,” co-creator Prashanth Venkataramanujam recently said, explaining the success of their show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.

The approach of this weekly Netflix show is unique and sets Minhaj apart from other news satirists like John Oliver and Trevor Noah. Instead of sitting behind a desk, Minhaj stands in front of his audience. He uses gestures and body language to engage his audience and has simple visuals to explain his points. The effect, whether you agree or not with Minhaj’s political analysis, is fresh and interesting.

The show makes for a great study in effective presentation skills. Here are three takeaways from Patriot Act that you can use in your next presentation.

1) Stand to Deliver

Instead of sitting down during your next work presentation, stand up because it will communicate to your audience your enthusiasm on the topic. Hasan Minhaj stands and his enthusiasm captures your attention.

Some tips to keep in mind, that you can see Minhaj follow:

  • Step out front and center; don’t hide behind a podium
  • Keep your feet grounded, equal weight on both feet. This appears more confident and steady as opposed to pacing back and forth or shifting weight from one leg to the other.
  • Move intentionally when transitioning from one topic to the next

2) Ease into Gestures

Watching Minhaj, you can see he gestures a lot. Gestures provide visual input that help the audience focus. Granted, Minhaj gestures more than you might be comfortable doing in your next work presentation. What we can learn from Minhaj’s gestures is his ability to line up his gestures with his language. For example, when Minhaj says the word “crush” in the episode about student loans, he simultaneously brings his hands together and grips.

A simple tip to get started: Try to make it a habit to use your hands as soon as you start talking. It will make you appear more comfortable. Then, as you get more comfortable using your hands during presentations, you can think about adding more meaningful gestures.

Hasan Minhaj out front and center.

3) Use Visuals as Support

Hasan has the benefit of having professionals design his slides. Nevertheless, you can see how the simple charts, diagrams, pictures and the occasional video clip in the background act as another way to engage his audience and drive his points home. What you don’t see are walls of text and bullet points.

The key thing to notice is Hasan is still the focal point of the presentation; the slides serve as background to emphasize his points. As slide expert Nancy Duarte says in her book Resonate, “You, not the slides, deliver the message.”

When preparing slides for your next presentation, go easy on the bullet points and text. Eliminate any extraneous elements that will distract your audience. Keep it visual and keep it simple.