“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” Comedian, Steve Martin
Music, dancing, and architecture are all, in their way, performance, and performance does not lend itself well to language. Aside from the technical issues, words only allow us to describe the way performance makes us feel.
Presenting skills for business are usually treated as a science when, in fact, they combine as an art. This doesn’t hold only for the great and gifted. In fact, any theater professional worth his or her salt will admit that 95% of acting technique is work and only 5% is inspiration or talent. So creating an art of presentation – rather than merely the mechanics – is entirely available to everyone.
The first step is to replace the word “presenting” with “representing.” “Presenting” reads more like “introducing” than anything else. Representing, on the other hand, demands artful tactics that embody the essence of your ideas. In other words, representing combines all of the personal attributes and behavior, solid props and intangible pull required to create desire, awe, inspiration, or any other emotional reaction in an audience.
Only children, circus leaders, and car salesmen can get away with “presenting”. It works only because of the immediacy of our emotional reaction to what the complete package offers. Who wouldn’t be charmed our child’s first talk about, say, the solar system? Or thrilled by an acrobat? Or desperately covet a shiny red convertible, no matter who introduced it?
In these cases, it’s the performance that gets to us, not the language. Without the performance, even the most suspenseful language would fall flat.
Representing, on the other hand, is what we as business people should always do with our ideas when faced with clients, the press, a Board, colleagues, and any other listeners who we need to persuade.
I can only dance about representing here – words can’t cut it, and I don’t have much space anyway. If you want to learn the art, it takes time and the right feedback to bring out your own individual style. After all, it’s an individual’s unique perspective that makes art what it is.
I can, however, remind you that you know what a great business performance feels like. It’s the difference between leaving a room thinking about how good you feel or considering anything else at all. Can you remember most of the data offered by your favorite teacher? What most people remember is how they left the classroom inspired.
So instead of the next deck of power point slides, consider transforming your presentation into a dance with conversation that your listeners will want to continue. That’s how to lead.
About the Author: Annette Kramer began her career in the New York theater and has been coaching actors for over 20 years. When she moved into the business world, Annette continued helping performers – this time executives and managers – make presentations into conversations people want to continue and to enhance their personal brand. After eight years working on PricewaterhouseCoopers’ online presence in New York, Annette moved to London. She continues to work with large businesses and has also mentored at SeedCamp, Micorsoft’s BizSpark, and other prestigious entrepreneur investment training courses. She is currently creating a performance advisory for Stradbroke Advisors.