Do you put passion in presentations, or do you settle for being an emotionless automaton?
Do you save your passion for other things? Meaningless things?
Do you even know what infuses you with passion?
Think about it.
What is Your Passion?
What is it you long to do? What is it that fills you with the thrill of discovery, the adrenaline of newness? What can compare with the natural high of applying yourself to a task that excites you?
What generates those endorphins? What brings a smile to your face involuntarily? What furrows your brow?
Is it “world hunger?” Or European soccer? Is it social injustice? Is it political theory? Is it comic book collecting?
Is it Chess? Numismatics? Tennis? Travel to exotic locations? Helping others solve problems? Writing essays? Fashion design? Financial manipulations? Reading a good book?
What’s your passion? Do you even have one?
Yes, you do have a passion. But likely as not, it’s been buried under a ton of necessity, the debris we call the business of life.
Is your Passion buried?
If you find that your passion is buried, then this is the time to rescue it as one of the most potent factors in delivering your most powerful presentations.
Once you explore your own visceral feelings, your passion, it becomes that much easier to invoke passion in presentations. To actually feel passion for the subjects of your shows. Can you generate passion? Of course you can. Will it be “artificial” passion? Of course not.
With a tip o’ the hat to Gertrude Stein . . . passion is passion is passion.
Unless you have passion for a subject and demonstrate that passion, you will always be at a disadvantage with respect to those who passionately embrace their subject. If you are in competition with several other teams pitching a product or service to a company for millions of dollars – and there is no noteworthy difference in the quality or price of the service – then how does the potential customer decide?
Put Passion in Presentations!
If he sees a real passion for the work in one team, if he feels the energy of a team driven to success and truly excited about the offering, don’t you think he’ll be inclined to the team that stirs his emotions? The team that makes him see possibilities? The team that demonstrates passion in presentation?
The team that helps him visualize a glorious future? The team that shares his own love and passion for his product or service and sees in you a shared passion for achieving something special in partnership?
Reread the previous paragraph, because it encapsulates so much of what is absent in presentations today, and so much of what is needed.
Passion cannot substitute for substance . . . but when it augments substance, it wins every time.
Passion has served as a crucial element in verbal communication for centuries. Two of my favorite quotations on its power follow:
“True emotional freedom is the only door by which you may enter the hearts of your hearers.”
Brees and Kelley, 1931
“Earnestness is the secret of success in any department of life. It is only the earnest man who wins his cause.”
S.S. Curry, 1895
Recognize in yourself the capacity for passion and the necessity of putting passion in presentations for power and impact. Recognize that you have the wherewithal to embrace even the most staid material, the “dullest” project. Remember always that it is you who make it better. You who invest it with excitement. You are the alchemist.
It’s your job to make it interesting
Many times you hear an “interesting” presentation about an “interesting” topic. It is well-done, and it engaged you. And you wonder why you never seem to get the “interesting” projects.
Have you ever admitted to yourself that you might be the missing ingredient? That perhaps it is your task to invest a project with interest and zest? That what makes a project “interesting” is not the topic . . . but rather the interaction between material and presenter.
Ultimately, it is your task to transform a “case” or business situation into an interesting and cogent presentation. It is your task to find the key elements of strategic significance and then to dramatize those elements in such a way that the audience is moved in powerful and significant ways.
Yes, you can do this. You don’t need an “interesting” case to do it.
You just need passion.
More on passion in presentations in The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.