48. How to present and not suck

In this episode we discuss presentation skills and storytelling. We are joined by Jonathan Zatland, Operating Partner at Forme Partners.

6/20/20243 min read

We chat about the following with Jonathan Zatland:

  • Secrets to crafting narratives that captivate

  • How authenticity can transform your leadership narratives

  • Why your presentations are falling flat


  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-zatland-992a1b12/


A creative and commercial leader with an extensive career in high growth technology companies, e-commerce and marketplaces across UK and Europe. I started out my career as a screenwriter, living and working in Los Angeles. This was the foundation of my learning to connect stories with an audience. After a decade, I took that experience and returned to the UK to start a retail brand, Mungo & Maud. The first of its kind high end dog and cat accessory store with a physical shop in London and other major outlets around the world. Opened the online store in 2006 in the very early days of e-commerce. Following my exit, I continued my narrative thread into my role as International Multichannel Director at Etsy, helping to build and scale all International markets outside of North America. Following the IPO, I went back into startup as Chief Commercial Officer for eve Sleep, a disruptor in the sleep wellness space which I helped build and scale through to IPO. I now work as an Operating Partner for Forme Partners working with founders and CEO's across the European tech landscape, aiding them with their commercial hires at all stages of growth.


  • Career goals, creativity, and personal growth. 0:05

    • Brandon and Bethany discuss their career goals and personal growth.

    • Bethany realizes she needs to take advantage of not working and prioritize personal development.

    • Bethany expresses frustration with lack of passion and purpose in her life, feeling unfulfilled despite various projects and hobbies.

    • She longs for a major project that consumes her and stirs her imagination, but nothing has yet emerged.

  • Effective storytelling and pacing in business presentations. 6:09

    • Brandon and Bethany discuss narrative structure in business context, focusing on conflict and pacing.

    • They emphasize the importance of actively listening to the audience and adjusting the narrative in real-time based on their reactions.

    • Bethany scripts an opening for high-stakes meetings to set the tone and manage nerves.

    • She tailors her approach based on the meeting's purpose and audience energy levels.

  • Public speaking, authenticity, and vulnerability. 11:21

    • Bethany uses narrative techniques to engage and motivate her team, including owning her energy and projecting enthusiasm.

    • She also practices or rehearses her delivery beforehand to ensure authenticity and effectiveness.

    • Bethany shares her approach to authenticity, vulnerability, and relatability in presentations, emphasizing the importance of self-discovery and confidence-building through therapy.

    • Brandon seeks advice on how to be more authentic in his presentations, with Bethany suggesting starting with self-work and building confidence before attempting to connect with audiences.

    • Brandon's son lied to fit in, but realized it didn't make him feel better or gain acceptance.

    • By sharing small truths, Brandon's son learned that his friends accept him for who he is, lies or not.

  • Storytelling and its importance in business leadership. 19:34

    • Brandon M. learns to connect with audiences by sharing personal stories living company values.

    • Jonathan: Conflict is necessary for business success, but resolution is key.

    • Bethany: Storytelling vs. narrative: both are important for communication and leadership.

  • Authentic storytelling and connecting with audiences. 23:49

    • Bethany and Jonathan discuss the importance of making a memorable takeaway in a presentation, such as a "lemon in the eye" that makes the audience feel something.

    • Jonathan suggests making something human and vulnerable to connect with the audience, using personal stories or moments that are relatable.

    • Bethany observes that people can write about mundane things but make it compelling when writing from their authentic voice.

    • Brandon M agrees, noting that authenticity is difficult to achieve, especially in corporate settings where people are often uncomfortable sharing their true feelings.

  • Storytelling, narrative, and growth. 29:31

    • Jonathan: Take people on a journey, reveal information gradually, show empathy.

    • Bethany: Genuine care and empathy in feedback lead to acceptance, insincerity leads to rejection.

    • Jonathan shares their approach to storytelling, emphasizing the importance of listening and feedback to improve.

    • Consistency in storytelling comes from being comfortable with both planning and improvisation, according to Jonathan.

  • Storytelling techniques for presentations, including pacing, energy, and engagement. 34:53

    • Bethany: uses pacing, self-deprecation, and listening to engage audience.

    • Jonathan: storytelling involves setting up, revealing, and landing, with repetition and reacting to energy.

    • Brandon M uses pre-engagement techniques to alleviate tension and start conversations with a live audience.

    • Jonathan emphasizes the importance of taking people on a journey through a story or problem-solving process.

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