David Ogilvy puts Don Draper to shame. The original “Mad Man” was known as the Father of Advertising, and left quite a lasting impression on the advertising industry. His books Ogilvy on Advertising and Confessions of an Advertising Man are staples in an advertising education.

The principles inherent in good advertising are very similar to those present in an effective presentation. The message should be delivered with the utmost clarity, and all words used should be concise. And like all great advertising, a great presentation should be memorable. On September 7, 1982, Ogilvy sent an internal memo to all his agency’s employees with some quick tips on writing. Here are several of them, and how we can apply them to our presentations.

“Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.”

The last thing you want to do during your presentation is sound like a ‘pretentious ass,’ as Ogilvy so aptly puts it. If you do, it’s a good bet your audience will feel disconnected and disillusioned, and thus immediately tune out. Such a fate is easy to avoid, though–– simply don’t use long, jargon-y words.

Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Use short words to convey your main points, and deliver those main points in short sentences. Avoid putting on the air of an intellectual, unless that’s appropriate for the audience you’re speaking to. Be down to earth and accessible to your audience members.

“Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning, and then edit it. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.”

These are great pieces of advice for the presenter. Give yourself time to prepare an upcoming presentation. Don’t wait until the last minute to put the final touches on it, and don’t wait until the day before to start practicing. Edit the hell out of it, and give it to someone you trust to do the same.

“Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”

Likewise, before you deliver your presentation, make sure your message AND your call to action are crystal clear. There shouldn’t be an ounce of doubt as to what you want your audience to do once the presentation is over. There should be a recognized call to action, a thoroughly thought-out plan of next steps.

And just as Ogilvy so appropriately mentions, if you want someone to take ACTION, don’t write to them, but tell them what you want–– precisely what you’re doing in a presentation. Be direct and to the point. Tell them exactly what you want, and how you want it.

We’ll leave you one of our favorite quotes from Ogilvy as a last food for thought: “Wooly minded people write wooly memos, wooly letters and wooly speeches.” Keep that in mind when you’re writing your presentation (and try to say that quote five times fast… we bet you can’t.)