Complete Story


It's Not a Presentation, It's a Performance

Presented by: Skip Weisman

As participants were meandering in for my half-day Presentation Power workshop in Detroit weeks before the COVID19 pandemic shut down future similar events for the time being, I began engaging in conversations with some to understand why they were attending.

Each shared personal reasons, which were varied.

What I learned was that most were at a minimum uncomfortable with presenting from in front of the room, and others were there to learn how to overcome the anxiety and fear of doing it.

After years of delivering similar workshops I also learned something new in these conversations.

I learned that the source of most attendees’ discomfort, fear, and anxiety was based on their preparation, or lack thereof.

It is important to understand that none of them saw preparation as the source. But, by asking questions about their preparation process, that was my diagnosis.

As attendees filed out of the session some shared their experience and learnings with me.

It seemed the big takeaway was the importance of preparation.

My takeaway was that too many people “wing it.”

About halfway through the session I asked the attendees a question that for me was a revelation.

I asked, “if you defined your next presentation, not as a presentation, but as a performance, how would you prepare differently?’

The answers were striking.

The answers shifted the attendees’ mindset from one of practice to one of rehearsal.

Whether your next opportunity to deliver a message from in front of the room, be it to an audience of two, twenty, two hundred or two thousand, your audience is  no different than if you are in a Broadway play.

Your audience, just like a Broadway audience, is judging you from the time you step in front of them and is going to be critical. For everyone’s benefit your audience needs to be engaged, and to one level or another wants to be entertained.

When you are in front of the room you are making an impression. You want to make the best impression possible because unlike a one-on-one conversation, you are making an impression on multiple people at the same time.

Reframing a presentation as performance changes the mindset and level of seriousness required to approach the event in preparing for the audience.

It raises the bar out of preparation mode into rehearsal mode. 

The next time you have a presentation on your calendar give it a try, because winging it is not in your best interests.

Printer-Friendly Version