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.

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