Oh how we hate making a fool of ourselves! Lessons for adding some oomph into our presentations.


Working with a client recently reminded me of doing a jigsaw puzzle. We had most of the pieces there but it wasn’t quite making the full picture!

The words were there (carefully crafted, elegantly sequenced, engagingly engineered).                             The will was there (determination to ‘nail’ this presentation malarkey, his quote not mine!).                 The vision was there (clear purpose, audience focused).

So what was missing? Energy that’s what! oomph! Buzz! Zest!

So keen to get it out in the way he had designed and scripted, my client was tied to his script. So worried that any deviation from the plan would be catastrophic, my client toned down his approach, hiding instead in the written words and safety of the script.  It’s not what he wanted but this desire for perfection had led him to deliver the exact opposite of what he had imagined.

Now one of my favourite quotes is, ‘if you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you will keep on getting what you’ve always got’.  So it was time to do things differently. If you are worried about making a fool of yourself, then maybe you need to make a fool of yourself  (at least in rehearsal). So we delivered the presentation in the manner of a wacky children’s presenter.  In the way of a stuffy school master.  As an American (neither of us were very good at that one!). As a magnificent evil witch/wizard.  And something interesting happened. Suddenly there was an energy previously missing. There were smiles and some extraordinary body language from someone who had been constrained and ‘professional’/

Now don’t get me wrong – that’s not how the presentation will ultimately be delivered (interesting image though!). Here’s the lesson we can take from this:

1. Practice over the top, be ridiculous in rehearsal and on the day (with our natural tendency to tone it down somewhat) we will end up delivering with just the right amount of energy!
2. What you think is over the top, often isn’t that over the top. My client was quite surprised to discover when he looked at the video recording that when he was being totally ‘wacky’, in fact he simply sounded lively and engaging (result!)
3. If your way of rehearsing isn’t delivering the results you want, then change the way your rehearse.

Give me a shout if you would like some support in delivering your presentations with oomph! And sign up for Speech Bubbles, weekly inspiration for your presentations.

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