PITTSBURG — For decades, Pittsburg State University Professor Mark Johnson has been speaking before audiences and giving presentations. On Tuesday, Sept. 3, he will give one such presentation at Root Coffeehouse about his new book — the topic of which is how to give effective presentations.
Johnson will be discussing his book Powerful Presentations That Connect, recently published by Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, at a Local Author Night event alongside Janea Speer, who recently wrote her first novel, Searching For Fire.
“I’ve been presenting in public ever since I was 7 years old, and I have been performing in front of audiences of all sizes all across the United States, and Canada now,” Johnson said, “and over that time have had many experiences, many successes, many failures, and learned from those, and have shared those with anecdotes and examples and what to do and what not to do when giving presentations.”
Johnson teaches an undergraduate class in presentation skills at PSU and a graduate level course in professional presentation. The purpose of his new book, Johnson said, is to help people overcome their fear of public speaking — a common fear that almost everyone experiences — and how to not only be comfortable when performing or presenting, but to ensure that your audience remembers your message.
Johnson noted that while he has done thousands of presentations and written articles, this was his first attempt at writing a book.
“In the acknowledgements I acknowledge a couple of my students, one who is now a fellow teacher with me in the department, and she kept egging me on and say ‘Doc Johnson, you need to share this information with people because everybody’s struggling with this. You need to share your experience and your examples and share that with people,’” he said. “And so because of her and another student’s suggestion and encouragement, I wrote this book.”
Johnson pointed out that while public speaking is a communication medium he is very familiar with, it is different from writing a book.
“One of the things that drove me to write the book is that here’s the reality of public speaking: I love public speaking, but if I’m just doing a presentation, the only people that will ever get my message are those sitting in my audience,” he said. “Well, there’s thousands of people that need help with overcoming that fear, and need help on improving their presentations. Well, they’re not all going to have access to me and come and sit and listen to me. So the only other way that I can reach them is through writing.”
Johnson noted that there are some other ways of reaching a larger audience than can fit in a classroom other than writing a book, and that he has done video blogs on LinkedIn, which have been successful and increased his following on the social media networking platform. He also pointed out that Powerful Presentations That Connect is not a standard textbook.
“While those that take my class might consider it a textbook, it’s not your typical textbook because it’s not written like a typical textbook format. It’s a very pragmatic guide with lots of real life examples of how to do stuff in overcoming deficiencies in our speaking.”
Some of those examples include advice on things like how to overcome problems such as running out of breath when giving a presentation through diaphragmatic breathing.
“I give them basic tips on how to perform and how to do that without straining their voice, and how to create more volume so they can fill the room with their voice instead of not being able to be heard in the back, or those kinds of things. So I give tons of examples like that,” Johnson said.
“It’s simple to read. It’s not a typical college textbook. It’s a very practical, very simple, pretty straightforward book.”
Local Author Night at Root Coffeehouse, 402 N. Broadway, is Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. Those unable to make it to the event can also get a copy of Johnson’s book online at https://he.kendallhunt.com/product/powerful-presentations-connect-1