Monday, November 9, 2009

The naked speaker: How to present naked

Editor's note: Marion Chapsal coaches and trains business executives in presentation and leadership skills, and blogs about those topics. We're connected on Twitter, and I asked her for permission to repost this very good article from her blog last week.

By naked, I mean without the whole set of classy and sleeky Powerpoint slides, latest projector, remote control, laser pointer, giant screen with latest videos and dolby stereo....This post was triggered by reading the brilliant article written by Martin Shovel, "What Power Point can't show you" in Creativity Works Blog.

What happens when technology fails?Commenting on Twitter last week about Peter Senge 's performance, without Power Point, here are the reactions I got from Angie Chaplin, Leadership Speaker and Trainer:

Recently, I had to facilitate a TeamBuilding seminar for International MBAs. I had designed a very “Zen like” short and sleek, design & chic PowerPoint with pictures purchased in iStock photos, few words, big fonts, very “Steve Jobs” styled…(without the black turtleneck, though).

I was very proud and eager to “make my show," I had rehearsed and prepared carefully.

I had not anticipated I would spill my coffee on my laptop, the day before, ruining my unsaved ppt. (The laptop, a brand new MacBook, is still alive with a mouse and keyboard transplant). Oh, lala! Désastre! Malédiction! (28 days later, it resurrected. I'm a Reborn Mac Believer, now.)

When I showed up the next morning, after a night trying to bring back my bonniemac to life,apart from my high stage of internal panic and lack of sleep,I had in fact all the presentation ready in my mind and was completely available for the participants.

I felt myself "naked".

Like in naked truth. Simply, naturally...naked.

I told them many stories, I listened to them and asked them plenty of questions, I was more flexible and available than if I had sticked to my initial plan, which was, more secretly, to make a Marion show. Of course, I had integrated the components of the presentation and was in fact making it “Live”. It was the best presentation ever. I felt free, natural, spontaneous, close to my audience and gave them more space too.

Why do I think Peter Senge is a naked speaker?

Watch this very short (2.40 min) video "Closing Circle."

He's speaking with simplicity, he's open and aware of others. Very natural. He's standing in the middle of a circle and telling us a story.

This is called "presence".


If you really have to use PowerPoint, preparing with visual aids, ppt slides and even better mixing with mindmaps, can be a fantastic way to get sharp and ready . Ready to do without, too...

It enables you to anticipate and structure your presentation, to think about the illustrations you might want to use. Then you use homeopatic dose.

You hand pick the best quality slides, the “wow” effect illustrations. That’s all.

You rehearse and rehearse, and eliminate. You “prune.”

It’s a great discipline and framework, from which one has to free oneself and move out of the ppt box.

It’s a means and should be used with only one question in mind: What added value is it bringing to my audience?

A wonderful way to do this is to embrace the Magical Story Frog Prince.You tell stories, you ask for stories from your participants, you make an imaginary fire and warm yourself around!

As Terrence Gargiulo says “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a Story is worth a thousand pictures.” Visit his site Making Stories, and his blog.

I agree with Marion: Speakers should evaluate their tools and props with this post in mind. Are they really adding value? Would engaging the audience directly add value? Thanks, Marion, for sharing this thoughtful discussion with The Eloquent Woman's readers.

speaker situation: contest winner

Ever wonder how you'd fare if you were suddenly thrust into the public spotlight--but were uncomfortable with public speaking? That's a theme of The Ungarnished Truth: A Cooking Contest Memoirby Ellie Matthews, a winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Just reading the introduction, where she describes getting called to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show, sets up her discomfort with getting put on the spot--and her reserve allows her the perspective to notice her feelings during all the very public presentations that followed her win. Check out this winning memoir of a speaking situation that many women face.