129 Presentations: Why They Suck & What To Do About It with Dushka Zapata & Dan Roam


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By Christopher Lochhead. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

If you’re a regular listener, you know that we have very few guests on this podcast. That is because I believe that 90% of what we get taught about marketing and entrepreneurship is either wrong or not very helpful. So I want to make sure that whoever we have is legendary, and also very helpful. Well, today at Lochhead on Marketing, you not only get one, but two legendary guests, Dushka Zapata and Dan Roam.

Dushka Zapata has been on Follow Your Different, and is one of my absolute favorite people in the world. She’s the author of many legendary books. Her most recent is called The Love of Your Life is You: A step by step workbook to loving yourself. When she’s not writing, she has had an extraordinary career as a PR communications executive and coach.

Dan Roam is a multi-time bestselling author as well. His most recent book is called The Back of a Napkin: Solving problems and selling ideas with pitchers.

In this episode of Lochhead on Marketing, we talk about presentations, and what the template and architecture of a legendary presentation is. Pay special attention to Dushka and Dan’s thoughts on the real reason most people suck at presentations, and what they think you can do about it.

The Principle Behind The Back of the Napkin

The conversation starts of with a brief introduction of what Dushka and Dan do, besides writing bestselling books. Dushka describes her work as drawing a connection between what executives say and the company’s brand. In essence, she helps people say what they want to say in the simplest terms possible.

Dan shares that his work is pretty much the same, in which he draws clarity out of these executive’s ideas. Except that he literally draws them out on whiteboards, paper, and if nothing is in reach, napkins.

Dushka then brings up the principle of The Back of the Napkin, and Dan explains it in detail.

“Why it’s called the back of the napkin is (because) some of the very, very best ideas, whether they’re related to business, or organizations, or leadership or anything else come from a simple sketch, (gets) invariably drawn on a bar somewhere between a couple of people who are sitting there talking about their idea. One of them pulls out a pen, and on that napkin on the bar says, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, if it could draw it out, what would it look like?” They draw a triangle or an arrow or a circle. And that becomes the basis of the idea.” – Dan Roam

Dan Roam on Thinking Differently

Dan was then asked if there were people who told him as a child to stop drawing and start paying attention to the “normal” stuff. He replies that he had a teacher that said exactly that, to stop drawing and pay attention to reading books and whatnot.

What these people did not know was that this was Dan’s own way of paying attention and expressing his thoughts on paper. So just because it was a little different, doesn’t make it any less important or valuable.

“My teacher said that I drew too much, and I talked too much. And I need to sit down and listen and pay better attention. What that teacher didn’t realize is that I was really struggling to learn to read. And the way I made up for it was by talking a lot, and being kind of boisterous. And drawing was not a challenge.

I think maybe if we dug just a little bit deeper into what your I think you might be talking about, is a lot of us maybe didn’t do so well in school or in formal situations as we might have, because we thought a little differently than we were supposed to. And now we’re finding thankfully that the people who think different, kind of people from the island of lost toys, are the ones who actually are the most needed right now.” – Dan Roam

Legendary Doodler

Dan shares the story of where it all began, and it was a place that we had a shared history together, Scient. During those brainstorming meetings at Scient, Dan would often draw out his interpretations of what others were saying, which in turn gave others a visual representation of that speaker’s idea.

“I was the guy who I didn’t understand what anybody was talking about most of the time. So in meetings, I would go to the whiteboard and try to draw out what I thought I heard these consultants were talking about.

That was really the genesis of this because often in the meeting, the whole tone or temperature, the meeting room would change. (It) moved away from something that was maybe a little bit combative, or a lot of ego involved, to where people were just looking at the picture saying, “that’s really close to what we were thinking about.” – Dan Roam

From there, he became the world’s most legendary Business Doodler.

To hear more from Dushka Zapata and Dan Roam, and how you can start making legendary presentations to pitch your ideas, download and listen to this episode.


Duska Zapata

After working for more than 20 years in the communications industry, Dushka noticed a theme.

People find it very difficult to articulate who they are and what they do.

This holds true for both companies and for individuals.

For companies, this is an impediment to the development of an identity, a reputation, a brand. It makes it hard for customers to see how companies are different from their competitors.

For individuals, in a new world order of personal brands, it makes it hard to develop one that feels real.

This is the focus of Dushka’s work: she helps companies and people put into simple terms who they are, what they do, and where to go next. Her work comes to life through message development, presentation training, media training and personal brand development. It comes to life through executive coaching, workshops and public speaking. It comes to life through what she writes.

Dushka has written ten bestsellers.

Her work has been consumed on Q&A site Qoura 180M times.

Dan Roam

Dan Roam is the author of five international bestselling books on business-visualization and communication clarity.

The Back of the Napkin was named by Fast Company, The London Times, and BusinessWeek as the ‘Creativity Book of the Year.’

Dan’s latest book, THE POP-UP PITCH, will be published by Hachette/Public Affairs on Oct 26, 2021.

Dan is a creative director, author, painter, and model-builder. His purpose in life is to make complex things clear by drawing them and to help others do the same.

Dan has helped leaders at Google, Microsoft, Boeing, Gap, IBM, the US Navy, the United States Senate, and the White House solve complex problems with simple pictures. Dan and his whiteboard have appeared on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and NPR.

Before founding Digital Roam Inc, Dan served as Client Partner & Creative Director at Razorfish, Scient, The Interactive Bureau, Red Square Productions, The Moscow Times, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Dan graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with degrees in Biology and Fine Art.

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Lochhead on Marketing™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe on Apple Podcast! You may also subscribe to his newsletter, The Difference, for some amazing content.

139 episodes