Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Elvis has Left the Building: More on Dancing About Architecture

Continuing from a post about business presentation not too long ago, here is the article on how to win clients that has been published in WomenUnlimited.

Enjoy. Feedback welcome!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stage Craft, Not Witchcraft (Although There's Always Magic)

Paula Vogel, my wonderful PhD advisor, used to say that empathy is a chemical reaction.

There's a kind of magic that arises between and among people when they're in the same room that just doesn't happen any other way. Sure, empathy is possible long distance, but it's just not the same.

Long distance, empathy requires some internal work, pulling out what we have already learned in person, even if we're not aware of it.

Empathy is also easily disrupted -- for example, if microphones are involved. The sound of a real voice to another person makes engagement less than immediate. Those few seconds of adjustment can mean the difference between engaging listeners immediately and losing them to passive hearing.

Talking to Dean Meyers last night via skype, we got on the subject of presentations and what people seem to do too often to turn off their listeners when it would be so easy to turn them on.

Dean works with visuals -- and he uses the word "stage craft". It's perfect. Once you are aware of your audience and that any presentation is theatre, you can begin making conscious decisions about what works and what doesn't.

In your presentation, you might want some disruption (in theatre, perhaps a la Brecht). However, if you are aware of stage craft, both the disruption and the manner of disruption are careful choices. Understand that what that an intention does not necessarily achieve the effect you want. Intention is only the beginning.

Once stage craft becomes a priority, it's easier to have the desired impact. If you know you need visuals and it's not your specialty, you'll go out and find someone who can do them right (rather than just doing it yourself because -- well -- you need slides).

Although the basis of presenting, content is the smallest piece of a pitch because its impact depends on the visual, emotional, and physical contexts in which (or with which) it is delivered.

The combination of the right elements produces a kind of magic you can't quite explain. And it's the feeling, not the specifics of the content, that people will remember.

Your listeners can always go back and review content. But the feeling of being present during a great talk can't be revived except in memory. Moreover, it's often exactly that talk's emotional impact that makes your listeners want to learn more.

So you'd better be careful about planning that (special) effect.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Advertag has Launched!

It always feels particularly satisfying when a client gets off the ground. Jonathan Shrago, winner of a trip to New York and San Francisco from the SeedCamp where I coached presentations, has set up his site.

For those in London, Advertag are focusing their site first on jobs in the Harrogate area for feedback on SEO (and those looking for jobs).

Their work is wonderful, and they are a very smart team. Keep your eye out for their blog.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Just to Remember: It's Not ALL About Presentation . . .

I write all the time about how important presentation is when persuading because people tend to ignore it in favor of content.

Just for a change, here's some emphasis on content --about Tom's Shoes that Raquel Dobson sent me. It's absolutely worth seeing, entrepreneurs out there (the presentation isn't so bad either, by the way).

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Business Presentations: This Time with Feeling

I've just penned a piece about business presentations for a publication that deals with new ideas. Here's the gist:

We need to replace the word "presenting" with "representing". Presenting implies only "introducing". Representing, on the other hand, demands that ideas are embodied in the performance we create. To do this meaningfully, this embodiment must stir up the inspiration, excitement, and other emotional reactions in others that they do in us.

It can easily make the difference between making a sale and losing one.

We treat business presentation skills as though they are a science when in fact they are an art. Again, I think the problem begins with the word "presentation".

Consider comedians. They strike a chord (or don't) because of the way they embody a situation rather than talk about it. Or embody a situation and THEN talk about it.

The humor comes from the emotional reactions that combine to become recognition. The recognition comes from the performance of a conversation with a partner, boss, store manager -- whatever -- which the comedian represents through embodying it onstage. Without it, any commentary would fall flat.

For maximum power, every medium needs to be exploited for its own particular possibilities. Film wouldn't work as dance, and visa versa, except as an exception to a rule or as a stand-in for the other.

Think how much more powerful a business presentation would be if you add all the possibilities of the art of representation. Move people. Inspire them. Make them feel something that moves them to action. It's the only way to do effective business.