Think of the average presentation you sit through.

If I can summarise: Boring, potentially useful information quickly forgotten.

Am I right?

Now think of  the best presentation you have ever sat through.

You remember not just the occasion, and the presenter, and probably those with you,  but also the information.

What is the difference between these two presentations?

Chances are the first was a wooden recitation of facts that were also on a powerpoint showing behind the speakers head, even worse, the speaker was reading the slides.

Chances are the best was a three dimensional “performance” by the speaker, there were moments of quiet, of passion, of visual conjuring from the verbal, of a simple point made that tied the whole thing together in a take-away message. The presence of props was limited to a very few photos, drawings or physical props that emphasised the point being made, the presentation was dominated by the physical presence of the person on stage.

The speaker brought emotion to the presentation, a physicality and personal engagement with the message being delivered far more than is possible with just the words.

Years ago before my first major public presentation, it was to an industry conference  with an expected attendance of about 1500, (the “Foodweek” conference about 1988)  I undertook a training session with a presentation coach. I do not remember much of that training, although it was well used on the day I was told, despite the almost terminal case of nerves, but I do remember the trainer saying again and again:

“it is not a presentation, it is a performance”.

That statement is as true today as it was then, perhaps more so because we are awash in messages, and increasingly those messages are visual, recognising we are a visual animal, so to be remembered, the bar is now set very high.

There are plenty of coaches out there, this session by Doug Stevenson is probably as good as it gets. My thanks to Mitch Joel for bringing it to my attention.