Tag Archives: movement

Stick Puppet Presenting? Upgrade to 3D!

Stick Puppet presenting
Eliminate Stick Puppet Presenting and you’re on your way to achieving personal competitive advantage

If experience is any guide for us, we can say that approximately 90 percent of our business presentations are delivered in 2-D fashion . . . stick-puppet presenting.

No, I don’t mean this literally in the sense that people become stick figures.

I mean that the typical business presentation is stripped of depth and breadth.

Stripped of humanity.  Stripped of the qualities that make it interesting, stimulating, and persuasive.

The potential richness, energy, vigor, and power that is provided by purposive movement is absent.

Crude Stick-Puppet Presenting

We are left with cutout figures, like stick puppets.  You’ve seen stick puppets.  They’re crude, flat little figures pasted onto sticks and then used in a child’s display to convey a story.

Rudimentary as it gets, the puppets shake and move up and down as someone voices dialogue from somewhere offstage.

Today’s business presentations are sometimes no better than stick-puppet presenting.  Call this the 2-D presentation.

Stick-Puppet Presenting is characterized by a zombie-like figure crouched behind a lectern, gripping its sides.

Or a speaker who reads from a laptop computer and alternately looks at a projection screen behind him, citing it verbatim.  If any movement occurs, it is unconscious swaying.  Or rocking, or nervous happy-feet dancing.

Stop stick puppet presenting for power and impact
Eliminate Stick Puppet Presentations

Perhaps there is a bit of pacing back-and-forth to fulfill some ancient advice mumbled to the speaker years earlier:  “Move around when you talk!”  And so the stick-puppet presenter wanders about the stage.

This is worse than no movement at all.  It adds one more irrelevant distractor to an already deteriorating situation.

But we want movement . . . the right kind of movement.  We want to accelerate from 2-D to 3-D presenting.  One powerful step in that direction is the addition of proper movement.

The addition of proper movement to your presentation can imbue it with energy, depth, richness, and enhanced meaning.

So in the next series of posts, we’ll analyze this component – “movement” on the stage in support of your presentation.

If you want to eliminate stick puppet presenting and receive a full-bodied explication of the transition from 2D to 3D presenting, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Secret #5 – Remedy the Boring Presentation

Boring Presentation can be avoided
Movement is Secret #5

We’re all familiar with the droning voice of the numbing speaker who rarely varies pitch, tone, or pace of a talk and who quickly loses us in monotony – and delivers the Boring Presentation.

In like fashion, you can be visually monotonous.

Visual monotony – either of repetitive constant movement . . . or of no movement whatsoever.

We know well the “rocker” and the “swayer.”

We know Mr. “busy-hands” and the “Foxtrotter,” who quicksteps in a tight little dance.  Perhaps you have seen the occasional great Stoneface, but he is a rarity today.

The Right Movement

Movement can enhance or cripple your presentation.  But you must engage the right kind of movement.

Before you begin agitated hopping about the stage willy-nilly, recognize that you should incorporate movement into your presentation for quite specific reasons.  Your movements should contribute to your presentation by reinforcing your message.

At the risk over over-alliterating, you should mesh your movements with your message.

Remember that every single thing you do onstage derives its power by its contrast with every other thing you do.  If you move all the time, like a constantly pacing jungle cat, it becomes the equivalent of white noise, and your movements contribute no meaning whatever to your presentation.

In fact, your movements become a distraction, leeching energy and attention from your message.  It, too, becomes a form of visual monotony.

Kiss of Sleep for the Boring Presentation

Likewise, if you remain stationary 100 percent of the time, the result is visual monotony.  You lull your audience into inattention, especially if you combine verbal and visual monotony in a single presentation – The Kiss of Sleep . . . for your audience.

Those in theater know this principle well.

In his very fine Tips for Actors, Jon Jory intones that: “Your best tool to avoid this dangerous state is variety.  Three lines of loud need soft.  Three lines of quick need slow.  A big dose of movement needs still.  Or change your tactics.”

So, think of movement as one more tool in your repertoire to evoke feeling from your audience and to convey a powerful and persuasive message.  And avoid the boring presentation.

The secret is not Movement alone . . . the secret is keen, decisive, proper, and exquisitely timed Movement.

Integrate your movement with your message for an especially powerful presentation.

Move Around During Your Presentation

Business Presentation Shouldn’t you move around during your presentation?

Consider this.

A student approached me after class and shared this experience:

“I stand in one spot for the most part during my presentations,” he said.

“But another professor told me to move around when I talk.”

Hmmm.

Move around when you talk.

“Did he tell you how?” I asked.

“Tell me what?”

“Did he tell you how to ‘move around?’  Did he tell where to go . . . what to do . . . when to do it . . . tell you what it would accomplish?”

“No, he just said to ‘move around’ when you talk.”

“Just ‘move around?’”

“Yes.”

Ponder that piece of advice a moment.  Ponder that advice and then reject it utterly, completely.  Forget you ever read it.

What Rotten Advice

Never just move around during your Business Presentation.

Don’t wander aimlessly.

Never just “move around” the stage.

Everything you do should contribute to your message.  Movement on-stage is an important component to your message.  It’s a powerful weapon in your arsenal of communication.  Movement can and should contribute force and emphasis to your show.

But some people move too much. Like the professor urged, they just “move around” because they don’t know better.

And why should they know better, when some professor urged them to start prowling the stage for the sake of it.

Just as some folks are rooted to one spot and cannot move while they speak, some folks just can’t stop moving.  They stalk about the stage like a jungle cat.

They move constantly, as if dodging imaginary bullets. They fear to cease pacing lest their feet put down roots. Business Presentation

This kind of agitated movement is awful.

Aimless pacing around the stage is worse than no movement at all.

Aimless movement indicates indecision, the sign of a disorganized mind.

It’s usually accompanied by aimless thoughts and thoughtless words.

“Move around when you talk.”

It’s not the worst piece of advice a professor has ever given a student, but it’s incredibly naive.

At first, the advice seems innocent enough.  Even sage.  Aren’t you supposed to move around during your presentation?  Don’t we see powerful presenters “move around” when they talk?  Didn’t Steve Jobs “move around” when he presented at those big Apple Fests?

Yes, we see them “move around” quite well.

But do you know why they “move” and to what end?  Do you understand how they orchestrate their words and gestures to achieve maximum effect?

Do you recognize their skilled use of the stage as they appeal to first one segment of the audience, and then another?  Do you think that Bill Clinton or Barack Obama just “move around” when they talk?

If I tell you to “move around during your presentation,” what will you actually do?

Think about it for a moment, how you might actually follow-through with that sort of vague advice.

Will you flap your arms?  Do Michael Jackson isolations with your shoulders?  Shake your fist at the crowd?

Move Around During Your Presentation, You Say?

How?  Where?  When?  Why?  How much?

Awful advice. We will never know how much damage such well-meaning naiveté has done to our presentation discourse.  Like much of what is said, it carries a kernel of truth, but it is really worse than no advice at all.

Centuries of practice and delivery advise us on this question.  Edwin Shurter said in 1903 . . .

Every movement that a speaker makes means – or should mean – something.  Hence avoid indulging in movements which are purely habit and which mean nothing.  Do not constantly be moving; it makes the audience also restless.  Do not walk back and forth along the edge of the platform like a caged lion.  Do not shrug your shoulders, or twist your mouth, or make faces.

You are well on your to mastering your voice and to speaking like a powerful motivator.

Now it’s time to incorporate essential movement.  What must you actually do during your talk?  Where to do it?  How to do it?  Why should you do it . . . and when?

In my next post, I answer those questions and show you how to incorporate meaningful movement into your presentation – exactly the types of movement that add power, not confusion.

Interested in more especially powerful techniques for your business presentation?   Click here and discover the world of business presentations.

Bad Presentation Tips can Sabotage Your Business Presentation

Bad Presentation Tips
The Zombies of Bad Presentation Tips Never Die . . . That’s why they’re called Zombies

When Armageddon finally comes, cockroaches and the zombies of bad presentation tips will be the only survivors.

I say this because I’ve learned that the zombies of bad presentation tips never die.

No, we can’t eradicate bad presentation tips completely.  These zombies are impervious to every remedy known to 21st century civilization.

But let’s give it a shot anyway.

Bad Presentation Tips

The process of becoming a great presenter is not so much prompting students to do something the right way.  It’s getting you – yes, you – to stop doing things the wrong way.

And this is much tougher than you might expect, given that 1) people generally dislike the idea of change, and 2) most folks tend to think that the presentation is something that exists outside of themselves . . . in a PowerPoint software package, or in notecards, or in a book.

The notion that the presenter actually has to change his behavior is not welcome news.

Accordingly, I instruct students to stop what they’re doing now as a result of bad habits and bad presentation tips.

Just stop.

And I do not entertain or engage in lengthy discussions of various opinions of what constitutes good presenting or how people want leeway granted for their own tics or habits.  All it takes is one film session to disabuse people of the notion that a bad habit is somehow acceptable.

Once they stop engaging in bad habits and misconceptions about presenting, they become de facto reasonably competent presenters.

That’s right.

Just stop the bad habits, and what remains can be downright decent.

But Bad Habits Die Hard

Bad habits can be perpetuated by exuberantly following bad advice.

The problem is recognizing what constitutes bad presentation tips.

This isn’t easy, because much bad advice paradoxically masquerades as good advice, and lots of these bad presentation tips zombies stalk the land.

Here are some of the most common examples of awful, vague, or incomplete presentation advice you invariably hear during your business school career from the most well-meaning of folks.

ZOMBIE #1 “Don’t Put your hand in your pocket . . . it looks ‘unprofessional.’”

This is absurd and carries the stink of oral tradition about it. From presidents to preachers, the hand in the pocket – if done properly – conveys assurance and confidence.

For many speakers, it also removes one hand from the equation as an unnecessary distractor.  Put that left hand in the pocket and you keep it out of trouble.

No more strange finger-play.  No more tugging at your fingers.  No more twisting and handwringing.

It leaves your right hand free to gesture, and those gestures themselves appear more decisive.

ZOMBIE #2 “Make eye contact.”

This advice is insidious in that it actually carries a large kernel of truth.  It sounds reasonable. But it doesn’t tell you how to do it.

And, yes, there is such a thing as bad eye contact.

Too long, and you come across as creepy.  Too short, and you come across as untrustworthy.

Make eye contact with people in your audience long enough to ascertain eye color, then move on.

ZOMBIE #3 “Move around when you talk”

This gem was given to me by a student, passed on from one of his other professors.  It’s one of the worst of bad presentation tips.  This advice suggests that you wander aimlessly about the stage in hopes that it will improve your presentation in some unspecified way.

Or it might mean to roll your shoulders as you step side-to-side.  It actually can mean most anything, and as such, it is terrible advice.

In this case the bad advice is worse than no advice at all.  See my previous posts on movement for ideas on how to incorporate movement into your talk . . . and how to incorporate pauses for effect.

ZOMBIE #4 “Just the facts.”

Really?  Which facts are those?

What does it mean, “Just the facts?”

Folks believe that this phrase makes them appear no-nonsense and hard-core.  But a more pompous and simultaneously meaningless phrase has yet to be devised.  Again, it means nothing and is arrogance masquerading as directness.

“Facts” must be selected in some way, and context must be provided to give them meaning.  “Facts” must be analyzed to produce alternatives and to render a conclusion.  This is a euphemism for “I don’t like what you’re saying . . . tell me what I want to hear.”

ZOMBIE #5 “The numbers tell the story.”

This is a favorite of finance folks, who seem to believe that the ironclad rules of presentations do not apply to them.

“ We’re special,” finance majors like to say.  “We don’t deal with all of that soft storytelling; we deal in hard numbers.”

There is so much wrong with this, it is difficult to locate a reasonable starting-point.

Not only do numbers, alone, tell no story at all . . . if the numbers were conceivably capable of telling a story, it would be a woefully incomplete story, providing a distorted picture of reality.  Numbers provide just one piece of the analytical puzzle, important to be sure, but not sufficient by themselves.

Moreover, the business presenter who elects to serve the god of numbers sacrifices the power and persuasiveness that go with a host of other presenting techniques.  Underlying this myth is the notion that you “can’t argue with numbers.”

You certainly can argue with numbers, and you can bring in a host of analysis that changes completely what those numbers actually mean.

ZOMBIE #6 “You have too many slides.”

How do you know I have “too many” slides?

Say what?  Oh, you counted them, did you?

I assure you that you don’t know.

You can conclude nothing about my presentation by looking only at the number of slides in it.

You will hear this chestnut from folks who believe that the number of slides you use somehow dictates length of a presentation.

Bad Presentation Tips can Kill your Presentation

Absurd on its face, people who use this believe that every slide will be shown a fixed amount of time.  They likely do some sort of calculation in their heads, dividing the time available by the number of slides to yield a number they believe indicates there are “too many” slides.

This is because they usually deal with folks unschooled in Business School Presentations methods.

If you follow the presentation principles laid down here in Business School Presentations, you will learn the glorious method of crafting frugal slides that pulse with power, surge with energy . . . slides that people remember, because they are smartly crafted and snap crisply, and they carry your audience along for an exciting and joyous ride.

And no one can tell anything about this by the number of slides in your presentation.

Bad Presentation Tips Zombies – these are just some that will come after you.

It’s probably not a good idea to argue with folks who give this sort of advice.  What’s the use?  Just ignore it and replace it in your own work with enduring and especially powerful presenting principles.

You can’t eliminate the zombies, but you can outrun them and outfox them.

And continue your upward trajectory toward becoming a superior business presenter.  And on that upbeat note, I leave you with several positive tips from the creator of the Prezi presentation package.  Peter Arvai, Prezi founder and CEO, offers sages advice here.

If you are interested in dispensing with all of these bad presentation tips and, instead, learning powerful presentation skills, I suggest you consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Stop the Bad Presentation Habit of Finger-play

Bad Presentation Habit
Stop the Bad Presentation Habit!

In the absence of clear instruction, we can develop a bad presentation habit.

Or two . . . or three.

Take gesture.

As with every craft, there is a correct way to gesture . . . and a wrong way.  For instance, without a clear notion of how gesture can enhance our business presentations, we’re left with aimless ejaculations that distract and leech away the power of our message and the audience’s confidence in our competence.

Accordingly, here are a few of the more common examples of bad gesturing involving just your fingers.  These are so common that I cannot but believe that someone, somewhere is training folks in these oddities, and it’s the equivalent of self-sabotage.

Control Those Fingers!

Under no circumstances engage in “finger play.”  This nervous habit can destroy your professional presence, can weaken your confidence, can take you down a dark road of  mediocrity.

This bad presentation habit many people develop unconsciously as they try to discover what to do with their hands.

You know you should do something with your appendages, but no one has told you what.  So you develop these unconscious bad presentation habits.

Many different activities come under the heading of “finger play.”

Tugging at your fingers.  I suspect that we all carry a “finger-tugging” gene embedded deep in our DNA that is suppressed only with difficulty.

Bending your fingers back in odd manner.  This is a ubiquitous movement, universally practiced.  It consists of grasping the fingers and bending them back, as if counting something, and then holding them there for a spell.  It’s almost a finger-tug, but more pronounced.

Waving your hands around with floppy wrist movement.  This is not only distracting, but the wobbly wrist action creates a perception of weakness and uncertainty.

Simply by eliminating these commonplace pathologies from your own presenting, you strengthen by subtraction.

Stop Bad Presentation Habits!

Why would you want to “gesture?”  Aren’t your words enough?

We gesture to add force to our points.  To demonstrate honesty, decisiveness, humility, boldness, even fear.  A motion toward the door, a shrug, a lifted eyebrow – what words can equal these gestures?

While its range is limited, gesture can carry powerful meaning.  It should carry powerful meaning; this form of nonverbal language predates spoken language.

Said James Winans in 1915:

Gesture, within its limitations, is an unmistakable language, and is understood by men of all races and tongues.  Gesture is our most instinctive language; at least it goes back to the beginning of all communication when the race, still lacking articulate speech, could express only through the tones of inarticulate sounds and through movements.

Imagine the powerful communication you attain when, at the proper moment, your voice, your gestures, your movement, and your expressions combine.

You attain a powerful communication moment when your voice, your gestures, your movement, and your expressions combine and align with the message and your visual aids to wash over your audience, suffusing them with emotion and energy.  Be spare with your gestures and be direct.

Make them count.

You’ll find more on correcting the bad presentation habit in The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Gangnam Style Presentation

Gangnam style Presentation Can elevate your own show
Gangnam Style Presentation is extreme, but instructive

Here’s a presenter who carefully follows the Three Ps of business presenting and quite obviously succeeds at his performance in a Gangnam Style Presentation.

The Three Ps, of course, are:  Principles . . . Preparation . . . and Practice.

The presenter calls himself Psy.

In this Gangnam Style presentation, Psy engages the Seven Secrets of presenting – the principles of Voice, Expression, Gesture, Appearance, Stance, Passion, and Movement – for a stunning performance.  Note that the acronym formed by those seven words is appropriate to this particular presentation:

VEGAS PM.

Applying the Three Ps

Moreover, while Psy exhibits incredible professional presence, he doesn’t rely solely on his charisma to carry his presentation.  He and his support team prepared meticulously for this performance, and they’ve obviously practiced much.

The presenter engages his audience, gives them exactly what they expected to receive, and encourages audience participation.

He exhibits tremendous focus on his main point, repeating his main point several times so that it isn’t lost – otherwise known as his song’s chorus – and he uses the same repeated choral movement to emphasize visually his song’s chorus.

View this Gangnam Style Presentation with these precepts in mind.

 

The comparison to superb business presenting is by no means a reach.

When you present, you give your audience a show.  Accordingly, you should prepare your show according to principles almost identical to those used by any stage performer.

You might not expect the kind of crazed enjoyment of your business presentation exhibited by the audience in the video (and I congratulate you if you achieve it).  But you can apply the precepts of presenting to meet your audience expectations, engage your listeners, and drive home your main point with repetition and focus.

Deliver a Gangnam Style Presentation

You can thoroughly prepare and practice your presentation, just as any worthy stage performer does.  Respect for your audience and your message demands no less than that you employ the Three Ps of business presenting.

Do this consistently, and you increase your personal competitive advantage tremendously as someone known for capable and competent business presenting.

For more on Gangnam Style business presenting, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

How to Move During a Business Presentation

You should move during a business presentation with power and purpose
You should move during a business presentation with power and purpose

Some of the worst presentation advice I’ve ever heard given someone is this . . .

“Move around when you talk.”

That’s it.  Nothing else.

This smacks of oral tradition and myth posing as wisdom.

“Move around when you talk.”

How Do You Move During a Business Presentation?

As with most myths, it’s based in a tiny kernel of truth.  Maybe you should “move around” when you talk.

How should you move?  We know we should.  But how?

Specifically, how does this advice help anyone to become a better presenter?  Do we roam aimlessly about the stage?  Do we roll our shoulders in isolation movements?

Do we shuffle to-and-fro?

Aimless and purposeless movement is worse than no movement at all.  The late Steve Jobs was infamous for his aimless roaming.

But wait!  Didn’t Steve Jobs “move around” when he gave his famous Apple product launch keynotes?

Indeed he did!  But you don’t have the luxury of a worshipful audience of 5,000 fanatics clamoring to see the latest technology that you plan to introduce.  You do not have 35 years of political and business capital carefully cultivated and primed.  You are not a billionaire celebrity CEO.

So you cannot learn how to move during a business presentation from a charismatic billionaire celebrity CEO who wields incredible power.

What you Do Have . . .

What you do have is the power to incorporate purposeful movement into your presentation.  When you do, you will find your presentation gains power and impact.  You make your points with vigor and confidence.

And your audience responds with the same passion that you invest.

In the video below, I suggest incorporating movement into your presentation in specific ways that enhance the power and impact of your message.  [To watch directly on Youtube, click HERE]

For more insight on how to move during a business presentation for power and impact, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Move Like Jagger in Your Business Presentation?

Business Presentation
Your movement during your business presentation is as important to plan as your talk itself

After I delivered an incredibly inspiring lecture in a class last year – one of many, I am certain – a student approached me and shared this:

“I stand in one spot for the most part during my presentations,” he said. “But another professor told me to move around when I talk.”

Hmmm.

Move around when you talk.

“Did he tell you how?” I asked.

“Tell me what?”

“Did he tell you how to ‘move around?’  Did he tell you what it would accomplish?”

“No, he just said to ‘move around’ when you talk.”

“Just ‘move around?’”

“Yes.”

Ponder that piece of advice a moment.

Ponder that advice and then reject it utterly, completely.  Forget you ever read it.

What rotten advice.

Never just “move around” in Your Business Presentation

Never just “move around” the stage.

Everything you do should contribute to your message.  Movement on-stage is an important component to your message.  It’s a powerful weapon in your arsenal of communication.

Movements can and should contribute force and emphasis to your show.

But some people move too much.  Like the professor urged, they just “move around” because they don’t know better.  And why should they know better, when some professor urged them to start prowling the stage for the sake of it.

Just as there are those who are rooted to one spot and cannot move while they speak, some folks just can’t stop moving.  They stalk about the stage like a jungle cat, constantly moving, as if dodging imaginary bullets.

They are afraid to cease pacing lest their feet put down roots.

Business Presentation
Never move just to “be moving.” Proper movement can lift your business presentation to a higher level of effectiveness

This kind of agitated movement is awful.

Aimless pacing around the stage is worse than no movement at all.  Aimless movement usually indicates indecision, the sign of a disorganized mind.  It’s usually accompanied by aimless thoughts and thoughtless words.

“Move around when you talk.”

It’s not the worst piece of advice a professor has ever given a student, but it’s incredibly naive.

At first, the advice seems innocent enough.  Even sage.  Aren’t we supposed to move around when we talk?

Don’t we see powerful presenters “move around” when they talk?  Didn’t Steve Jobs “move around” when he presented at those big Apple Fests?

Yes, we see them “move around” quite well.

But do you know why they “move” and to what end?

Do you understand how they orchestrate their words and gestures to achieve maximum effect?  Do you recognize their skilled use of the stage as they appeal to first one segment of the audience, and then another?

Do you think that Bill Clinton or Barack Obama just “move around” when they talk?

If I tell you to “move around when you talk,” what will you actually do?  Think about it for a moment, how you might actually follow-through with that sort of vague advice.  Will you flap your arms?  Do Michael Jackson isolations with your shoulders?  Shake your fist at the crowd?

Move During Your Business Presentation, You Say?

How?  Where?  When?  Why?  How much?

Awful advice.

We will never know how much damage such well-meaning naiveté has done to our presentation discourse.  Like much of what is said, it carries a kernel of truth, but it is really worse than no advice at all.  Centuries of practice and delivery advise us on this question.  Edwin Shurter said in 1903 . . .

Every movement that a speaker makes means – or should mean – something.  Hence avoid indulging in movements which are purely habit and which mean nothing.  Do not constantly be moving; it makes the audience also restless.  Do not walk back and forth along the edge of the platform like a caged lion.  Do not shrug your shoulders, or twist your mouth, or make faces.

You are well on your to mastering your voice and to speaking like a powerful motivator.  Now it’s time to incorporate essential movement.

What must you actually do during your talk?  Where to do it?  How to do it?  Why should you do it . . . and when?

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll answer those questions and show you how to incorporate meaningful movement into your presentation – exactly the types of movement that add power, not confusion.

Interested in more especially powerful techniques for your business presentation?   Click here and discover the world of business presentations.

“Move Around When you Talk” Video!

Move with purpose and power during your presentation . . . avoid aimless roaming

We are all familiar with the droning voice of the numbing speaker who rarely varies pitch, tone, or pace of a talk and who quickly loses us in monotony.

In like fashion, it is possible to be visually monotonous.

Visual monotony – either of constant repetitive movement or of no movement whatsoever.

We know well the “rocker” and the “swayer.”  We know Mr. “busy-hands” and the “Foxtrotter,” who quicksteps in a tight little dance.

And we know the statue, who moves not at all and hides behind a lectern, gripping it white-knuckled.

Go ahead and move, but . . .

Yes, incorporate movement.  But before you begin hopping about the stage willy-nilly, recognize that you should incorporate movement into your presentation for specific reasons.  Your movements should contribute to your presentation by reinforcing your message.

At the risk over over-alliterating, you should mesh your movements with your message.

Remember that every single thing you do onstage derives its power by its contrast with every other thing you do.  If you move all the time, like a constant pacing jungle cat, it becomes the equivalent of white noise, and your movements contribute no meaning whatever to your presentation.  In fact, your movements become a distraction, leeching energy and attention from your message.

It’s a form of visual monotony.

Likewise, if you remain stationary 100 percent of the time, the result is visual monotony. You lull your audience into inattention, especially if you combine verbal and visual monotony in a single presentation – The Kiss of Death.

So, think of movement as one more tool in your repertoire to evoke feeling from your audience and to convey a powerful and persuasive message.  Watch this video for basic advice on movement in your presentation . . .

For more on especially powerful movement during your business presentations, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

There are no Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was a fine presenter, but there were and are no Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was a good presenter, but not a great one . . . Steve had advantages unavailable to you and me

For some reason known only to the deities of publishing, Apple’s iconic CEO Steve Jobs is considered a great business presenter.

A bestselling book by Carmin Gallo even touts The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.

But is Steve really a great presenter?  Does he really have secrets that you can use?  And can you learn how to be “an insanely great” presenter from this book?

No . . . no  . . . and . . .

Well . . . on that last point, you can learn to become a pretty good presenter from this book.

But not from Steve Jobs.

The Extraordinary Jobs

Steve is a visionary and an extraordinary entrepreneur many times over.  He has grown tremendously since the days when he thought that his self-absorbed bombast gave him license to insult Microsoft and Bill Gates mercilessly.

Jobs emerged as a celebrity CEO, a man who loves the limelight and whose strong and quirky personality guarantee him a maniacal following among a narrow slice of the American populace.

But presenting?

On an absolute scale, Steve is a slightly above-average presenter.  Remove Steve’s high-tech prop that the entire wonk-world is waiting to see, and remove the employee/early adopter audiences that cheer his every eye-twitch, and we are left with a shabbily dressed average sort of fellow given to aimless pacing and whose high-pitched voice grates a bit on the senses with its “ummms” and “ahhhhs.”

You and I know that there is only one reason that Steve Jobs is on that stage.  Only one reason that he has a book purporting to reveal the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs.

And it’s not for his presenting skills.

The Real Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

While Jobs himself is not someone whose presenting skills deserve emulation, he is obviously the subject of the book because of his built-in audience, and so we must deal with that.  We can dismiss it, in fact.

But the book does have a gem.

The gem of the book is the author.  The author of the Jobs book is Carmine Gallo, who is an extremely polished and superb presenter and presentation coach, and he embeds solid presenting nuggets throughout the book.

Carmine is, in fact, a much better presenter than Jobs. You can judge for yourself by watching the video here.

But even Carmine is not perfect.  He begins by gushing at Jobs’s stature as a presenter that is almost embarrassing in its lavish excess:  “Steve Jobs is the most captivating communicator on the world stage . . . He is the world’s greatest corporate storyteller!”

Really?

Really?

But . . . well, we’re selling books here, and hype is understandable.  I’d probably gush, too, if given a similar opportunity, so let’s give Carmine a pass on this one.

But at the end of the video Carmine gives advice that I believe is just flat-out wrong.

He says that you, the presenter, are the hero of the presentation.  That you, your product, or your service is the hero.

All of us would like to be the hero of our presentation, wouldn’t we?  And we are sorely tempted to put the focus on our product and ourselves.

No. Don’t do it.

Your Audience is the Hero

There is room for only one hero in the presentation, and that hero is not you.  The hero is in the audience, and you are there to help your audience become heroic.

As with all presentation instruction, you can ignore or accept what you choose, and this point is no different.  You can try to be the hero.  Or, you can focus on your audience and its needs and its desires.

In sum, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs offers a reasonable exposition of presentation methods that can benefit us all, but recognize that these methods have nothing to do with Steve Jobs and they do not help us become “insanely great” presenters.

But there is good news for you on the presentation front.  The best news in all of this is, in fact, great news.

With dedication, coachability, and the right method, virtually anyone – and I mean anyone – can become a better business presenter than Steve Jobs.

As a student in business school, you can try this book to launch your own presentation career:  The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Just one Business Presentation book . . .

Not this Business Presentation Book
This isn’t a bad Business Presentation Book, but . . .

If you could have only one business presentation book to help you with your presentations, what would it be?

You have many from which to choose.  Too many, in fact.

Hundreds of them.

So this question is part rhetorical and part genuine inquiry to discover what motivates, trains, and aids students and young executives in their development into capable presenters. No, not just capable presenters . . . especially powerful presenters.

I have my own answer to this question, of course, and I’ll share it with you in a moment.  It’s based on reviewing a skein of presentation and public speaking books published over the course of 2,500 years.  All of ’em?  Close to it.

It’s an esoteric subject with a tightly circumscribed group of recognized and established authors and scholars.  The mid- to late 1800s was the golden age for modern oratory and presenting.  This was when Philadelphia was host to the National School of Elocution and Oratory, and departments of public speaking flourished in universities across the land.

Business Presentation Books

Today, we have “communications” courses that offer tofu and tedious texts.  They offer impractical and vague suggestions that are often impossible to put into practice.

Today we have The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs supplanting the rich and powerful books of speaking masters who offer the soundest and most-proven presentation instruction in all of recorded history.  This is not to harshly criticize The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.  I don’t imply that it isn’t useful at all.  The author, Carmine Gallo, is a delightfully engaging and powerful public speaker himself.  He pens a superb column for BusinessWeek.

And sure, this book has a pocketful of useful tips.

Business Presentation BookBut the book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, is more about Steve Jobs than about you.  It’s more about Steve Jobs than about presentation secrets that you can actually use.

Let’s put it this way:  Steve Jobs’s #1 presentation “secret” is to speak only at Apple product launch extravaganzas populated with early adopter evangelicals and to ensure that he is unveiling the next generation high-technology gadget that has been hyped in the world press for the previous 12 months.  In such a scenario, you and I could paint our faces blue and dress like Jack Sparrow and deliver a successful and quite powerful presentation?

Of course we could.  That is Steve Jobs’s actual “secret.”

Jobs is an above-average speaker with a distinctive style.  His public appearances are highly orchestrated, and his speaking competition in America’s C-Suite is abysmal.

In short, Jobs is a celebrity CEO armed with a built-in audience poised to cheer his every word.  That’s surely a “secret,” but it’s not helpful to the average presenter.

So, will you learn anything from Mr. Gallo’s book?  Sure, but it has nothing to do with Jobs or what he does.

Mr. Gallo laces enough fundamental advice throughout the book to help a neophyte improve his presenting in several aspects.  But the question I asked at the beginning is this:

If you could have only one book to help you with your business presentations, what would it be?

Not that one.

In fact, I could recommend a dozen books that are utterly superb, none of which published after 1950, that far outstrip today’s pedestrian offerings.  Business presentation books that offer a wealth of powerful and mysterious techniques to transform you into the most dynamic speaker you possibly can be.  Business presentation books to stretch you to your utmost limits, books that propel you to fulfill your fullest presentation potential.

Single books that are worth any 10 “business communication” texts costing more than $1,000.

But if I had to choose one . . . and only one . . .

It would be this book . . . a book first published in 1913.

This Business Presentation Book

Subsequent to its original publication, this incredible tome went into more than 58 editions and was constantly in print until 1962.  In that year, it was revised and given a different title, and it went into another 28 editions, the last one I can find published in 1992.  Its title was again revised and a new edition published in 2006.

It remains in print today.  Many reprint editions are available and are quite inexpensive.  Like diamonds upon the ground that no one recognizes.

And of all the more than 1,000 business presentation books I own, dating from 1762 to the present day (and reprints back to 430 BC), this is the one book I commend to you.  You can search it on Amazon.com and purchase an inexpensive copy today.

The one book I recommend is . . .

Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business, by Dale Carnegie.

Post-1962, the book is called The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Public Speaking, an edition revised by Carnegie’s wife [I dislike the new title, because it gives the mistaken impression that great public speaking can be “quick and easy,” an addition to the original book added much later, but I’ll not cavil on that point here].

The newest edition is called:  Public Speaking for Success.

The One Business Presentation Book that Beats them All
The One Business Presentation Book that Beats them All

Of course, Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business doesn’t mention the PowerPoint software package, for obvious reasons.  Instead, it focuses on the most important elements of any business presentation, whether delivered by Pericles to the Athenians in 430 BC or by you to your Global Business Policies course in 2011.  It focuses on you . . . your message . . . your audience.

Buy this book . . .

Read this book. . .

Learn from this book . . .

. . . and enjoy the fruits.

More on Business Presentation Books in The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Secret # 5 – Avoid the Boring Presentation

The Boring Presentation can be fixedWe’re all familiar with the droning voice of a speaker who rarely varies pitch, tone, or pace and who inflicts on us the boring presentation.

In like fashion, you can be visually monotonous.

Visual monotony – either of repetitive constant movement or of no movement whatsoever.

We know well the “rocker” and the “swayer.”  We know Mr. “busy-hands” and the “Foxtrotter,” who quicksteps in a tight little dance.  Perhaps you have seen the occasional great Stoneface, but he is a rarity today.

The Right Movement

Movement can enhance or cripple your presentation.

And the right kind of movement can solve the boring presentation quite handily.

But don’t begin agitated hopping about the stage willy-nilly.  Recognize that you should incorporate movement into your presentation for quite specific reasons.  Your movements should contribute to your presentation by reinforcing your message.

At the risk over over-alliterating, mesh your movements with your message.

Remember that every single thing you do onstage derives its power by its contrast with every other thing you do.  If you move all the time, like a pacing jungle cat, it becomes the equivalent of white noise.  Your movements then contribute no meaning whatever to your presentation.

In fact, your movements become a distraction.  They leech energy and attention from your message.  It’s a form of visual monotony.

The Kiss of Sleep – Your Boring Presentation

Likewise, if you remain stationary 100 percent of the time, the result is again visual monotony.  You lull your audience into inattention, especially if you combine verbal and visual monotony in a single presentation – The Kiss of Sleep . . . for your audience.

You inflict . . . the boring presentation.

Those in theater know this principle well.

In his very fine Tips for Actors, Jon Jory intones that: “Your best tool to avoid this dangerous state is variety.  Three lines of loud need soft.  Three lines of quick need slow.  A big dose of movement needs still.  Or change your tactics.”

So, think of movement as one more tool in your repertoire to evoke feeling from your audience.  With it, you can convey a powerful and persuasive message.

The secret is not Movement alone . . . the secret is keen, decisive, proper, and exquisitely timed Movement.

For more on how movement can help to remedy a boring presentation, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Secret # 3 – Your Gestures

What is gesture, and why do we worry about it at all?  It’s nothing more than an add-on, right?  Something perhaps nice to have, but unessential to the point of our presentation.

The fact is that you cannot separate sincerity from your appearance. You can’t disaggregate movement from your inflection, from your volume, from your nuance. And you cannot separate your words from gesture.

So let’s add the power of gesture to our words to achieve superior messaging.

What’s a Gesture?

A wave of the hand.

A snap of the finger.

A stride across the stage with arms outstretched to either side.

A scratch of the chin.

Crossed arms.

An accusatory finger.

A balled fist at the proper moment.

These are all gestures that can either enhance or destroy your presentation. Yes, I said destroy.

Professional presentation coaches understand that most of the information transmitted in a show is visual. This is a result of the presence of the speaker. An audio recording of a talk is not nearly as powerful as an actual live presentation. Executive coach Lynda Paulson is spot-on when she notes the power of gestures to persuade an audience . . . or to alienate an audience, because “at least 85 percent of what we communicate in speaking is non-verbal. It’s what people see in our eyes, in our movements and in our actions.”

Gestures provide energy, and accent. They add power, emphasis, and meaning to our words. Throughout the history of public speaking, the finest communicators have known the importance of the proper gesture at the proper time. Entire books, in fact, have been written about gesture and the power it can bestow, but most of this knowledge resides in the recesses of libraries waiting to be rediscovered. See, for example, Edward Amherst Ott’s classic 1902 book How to Gesture.

Gesture is too important to leave to chance. Certainly too important to dismiss with the airy “move around when you talk.” Let’s understand exactly what it means.

In 1928, Joseph Mosher defined gesture in a way that guides us even today:  “Gesture may be broadly defined as visible expression, that is, any posture or movement of the head, face, body, limbs or hands, which aids the speaker in conveying his message by appealing to the eye.”

Gesture in your presentation should be natural. It should flow from the meaning of your words and the meaning you wish to convey with your words. We never gesture without reason or a point to make. Typically, the emotion and energy in a talk leads us to gesture. Without emotion, gesture is mechanical. It is false. It feels and looks artificial.

Communicating Without Words

Gesture is part of our repertoire of non-verbal communication. You have many arrows in the quiver of gesture from which to choose, and they can imbue your presentation with power. And on rare occasion, can imbue your presentation with majesty of epic proportions. Yes, I said “majesty of epic proportions.”

For if you do not begin to think in grand, expansive terms about yourself and your career, you will remain mired in the mud. Stuck at the bottom.

Proper gesture increases your talk’s power and lends emphasis to your words. In fact, gesture is essential to take your presentation to a superior level, a level far above the mundane. You limit yourself if you do not gesture effectively as you present.

As with every craft, there is a correct way to gesture . . . and a wrong way. Without a clear notion of how gesture can enhance our presentations, we are left with aimless ejaculations that can distract and leech away the power of our message and the audience’s confidence in our competence. Accordingly, here are a few of the more common examples of bad gesturing involving just your fingers. These are so common that I cannot but believe that someone, somewhere is training folks in these oddities, and it’s the equivalent of self-sabotage.

Control Those Fingers!

Under no circumstances engage in “finger play.”  This is a habit many people develop unconsciously as they try to discover what to do with their hands. You know you should do something with your appendages, but no one has told you what. So you develop these unconscious motions. Many different activities come under the heading of “finger play.”

Tugging at your fingers. I suspect that we all carry a “finger-tugging” gene embedded deep in our DNA that is suppressed only with difficulty.

Bending your fingers back in odd manner. This is a ubiquitous movement, universally practiced. It consists of grasping the fingers and bending them back, as if counting something, and then holding them there for a spell. It’s almost a finger-tug, but more pronounced.

Waving your hands around with floppy wrist movement. This is not only distracting, but the wobbly wrist action creates a perception of weakness and uncertainty.

Simply by eliminating these commonplace pathologies from your own presenting, you strengthen by subtraction.

The Power of Gesture

Why would you want to “gesture?” Aren’t your words enough? To add force to your points. To demonstrate honesty, decisiveness, humility, boldness, even fear. A motion toward the door, a shrug, a lifted eyebrow – what words can equal these gestures?

While its range is limited, gesture can carry powerful meaning. It should carry powerful meaning; this form of nonverbal language predates spoken language. Said James Winans in 1915:

Gesture, within its limitations, is an unmistakable language, and is understood by men of all races and tongues. Gesture is our most instinctive language; at least it goes back to the beginning of all communication when the race, still lacking articulate speech, could express only through the tones of inarticulate sounds and through movements.

Imagine the powerful communication you attain when, at the proper moment, your voice, your gestures, your movement, and your expressions combine. You attain a powerful communication moment when your voice, your gestures, your movement, and your expressions combine and align with the message and your visual aids to wash over your audience, suffusing them with emotion and energy. Be spare with your gestures and be direct. Make them count.

Look for more detailed analysis on the gestures available to you in this space in coming weeks.

Especially Powerful Business Presentation Movement

You’ve almost mastered your voice and material, and now it’s time to build on that and incorporate essential presentation movement.Presentation Movement for Competitive Advantage

What should you do during your talk?

Where to do it?  How to do it?  Why should you do it . . . and when?

Today we begin to incorporate meaningful movement into your presentation – movement that adds power, movement that reinforces your message in positive ways.

First, think about distance.  Your distance from your audience significantly impacts the degree of connectivity you share with audience members.

Distance Matters in Presentation Movement

Many speakers are unaware of the effect that distance-from-audience can have on their talk.  The formal term for how distance affects the relationship between speaker and audience is called “proxemics.”

This is simply lingo for your proximity to the audience – how far from your audience you stand.  Altering that distance throughout your talk can enhance your message in ways you intend.

You achieve four distinct effects by varying the distance that you maintain between you and your audience.  A distinguished anthropologist, Edward T. Hall, developed the concept of how these four distances communicate vastly different messages from speaker to audience.

Let’s look at the Four Spaces and how you can use them to achieve certain effects with your presentation movement. They can animate your business presentation and enhance that 3D effect I often refer to.

First, the most common space is public space, and this is a distance of more than 12 feet from your audience.  Obviously, this space is necessary when you deliver a lecture to a large audience of, say, 200 persons or more.

The second space is social space.

Utilizing the space available can enhance your presentation movement
Knowledge of how distance from your audience can impact your business presentation is crucial to crafting a winning show

This space is occupied by the speaker who wants to connect in a personal way with his audience.  It’s the space from four feet to 12 feet from your audience.

Think of a seminar of 12 students with a professor in close proximity. Here, eye contact is frequent and effective.

A conversational style is possible and desirable.  In fact, conversational and relaxed style is essential in this scenario.

The third space is personal space. This space begins at 18 inches from a person and extends out to approximately four feet.  It is conversational space and is generally not utilized in public speaking.

The fourth space is intimate space.  This space is highly personal and you must be invited into this space.  Without an invitation, you invade this space at your own risk.  You make others feel uncomfortable, and they may respond in any number of ways, few of which will please you.

Now, it’s time to think about scripting your presentati0n movements.

Coordinate your movements with major segments of your talk.  Script them into your presentation as if you were performing a play.

For instance, follow the script below.  Following each quote, the indented statements describe the actions you take:

SPEAKER:   “My talk has three major points.  As I share these points with you tonight, I want you to consider how each of these powerful issues affect you, personally.  The first major point?”

<<Bow head and walk slowly to the left.  Take ready stance. Look up at audience. >>

SPEAKER:   “The first major point is Humility.  In this we are the same as our earliest fathers and mothers . . . .”

<<Look to your right and walk slowly, meeting the eyes of several audience members in turn.  Stop in ready position. >>

SPEAKER:   “The second major point is Confidence.  Surely there is not one among us who has not felt the fear of failure, of being judged unworthy . . . .”

<<Look to the center and walk slowly to center-stage.  Stop and assume ready position.  Gesture with both hands in supplication.>>

SPEAKER:   “The third and most important point is this – Understanding of a kind that passes beyond . . . etc., etc. . . .”

The movements thus accomplished are displayed in the diagram.  This type of broad presentation movement accentuates the major points of your talk. You anchor each point at a different part of the stage:

Point 1 to the Left

Point 2 to the Right

Point 3 to the Center

This scripted movement series is a highly visual reinforcement to the organization of your talk.  Coupled with the proper haBusiness Presentation Movementnd gestures and expressiveness of face and voice, this series movement invests your message with immediacy and dimensionality and increases its impact.

You hammer home the three points with a visual element coupled with the aural element.

All of this carefully considered presentation movement about the stage also conveys to the audience that you are in control.  You own the stage.  So act like you own it; don’t behave like a visitor who cannot wait to depart.

It’s your space, so make good use of it.  Learn to be comfortable in that space and to utilize all of the space at your disposal.

At the same time, apply the principles found here.  Do not move, just to be moving.

The combined effect of movement, position, and spoken message connects you firmly with your audience; appropriate movement deepens the connection and moves you from 2D Presenting to 3D Presenting.  And when you make this jump to 3D presenting, you enhance your professional presence on the stage and add to your personal competitive advantage.

Interested in more?  You can find all of this and much more on presentation movement in The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

Focus on Your Presentation Body Movement

Presentation body movement for personal competitive advantage
Presentation body movement adds the richness of the third dimension to your business presentation

After I delivered an incredibly inspiring lecture in one of my classes last semester,* a student approached me and shared this snippet about presentation body movement.

“I stand in one spot during my presentations,” he said.  “But another professor told me to move around when I talk.”

Hmmm.

“Move around when you talk.”

“Did he tell you how?” I asked.

“Tell me what?”

“Did he tell you how to ‘move around?’  Did he tell you what it would accomplish?”

“No, he just said to ‘move around’ when you talk.”

“Just ‘move around?’”

“Yes.”

Never just “move around when you talk”

Ponder that piece of advice a moment.  Ponder it and then reject it utterly, completely.  Forget you ever read it.

What rotten advice.

Never just “move around” the stage.  Everything you do should contribute to your message.  Presentation body movement on-stage is an important component to your message.  It’s an especially powerful weapon in your arsenal of communication.

Movements can and should contribute force and emphasis to your show.

But some people move too much.  Like the professor urged, they just “move around” because they don’t know better.

And why should they know better, when some professor urged them to start prowling the stage for the sake of it.

Presentation body movement for advantage
Presentation body movement?

Just as there are those who are rooted to one spot and cannot move while they speak, some folks can’t stop moving.  They stalk about the stage like a jungle cat, constantly moving, as if dodging imaginary bullets, afraid to cease pacing lest their feet put down roots.

Such movement is awful.

Aimless pacing around the stage is worse than no movement at all.  Aimless movement usually indicates indecision, the sign of a disorganized mind.

It’s usually accompanied by aimless thoughts and thoughtless words.

“Move around when you talk.”

It’s not the worst piece of advice a professor has ever given a student, but it’s incredibly naive.

At first, the advice seems innocent enough.  Even sage.  Aren’t we supposed to  “move around” when we talk?  Don’t we see powerful presenters “move around” when they talk?  Doesn’t Steve Jobs “move around” when he presents?

Yes, we see them “move around” quite well.

But do you know why they “move” and to what end?  Do you understand how they orchestrate their words and gestures to achieve maximum effect?  Do you recognize their skilled use of the stage as they appeal to first one segment of the audience, and then another?

Do you think that Bill Clinton or Barack Obama Just “move around” when they talk?

If I tell you to “move around when you talk,” just what will you actually do?  Think about it for a moment, how you might actually follow-through with that sort of vague advice.

Will you flap your arms?  Do Michael Jackson isolations with your shoulders?  Shake your fist at the crowd?

What Kind of Presentation Body Movement?

How?  Where?  When?  Why?  How much?

Awful advice.

We will never know how much damage such well-meaning naiveté has done to our presentation discourse.  Like much of what is said, it carries a kernel of truth, but it is really worse than no advice at all.  Centuries of practice and delivery advise us on this question.  Edwin Shurter said in 1903 . . .

Every movement that a speaker makes means – or should mean – something.  Hence avoid indulging in movements which are purely habit and which mean nothing.  Do not constantly be moving; it makes the audience also restless.  Do not walk back and forth along the edge of the platform like a caged lion.  Do not shrug your shoulders, or twist your mouth, or make faces.

You are well on your to mastering your voice and to speaking like a powerful motivator.  Now it’s time to incorporate essential movement.

What must you actually do during your talk?  Where to do it?  How to do it?  Why should you do it . . . and when?

In coming posts, I’ll answer those questions and show you how to incorporate meaningful presentation body movement into your show – exactly the types of movement that add power, not confusion.

Interested in more on presentation body movement?  Consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

 

* That’s tongue in cheek