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The Orderly Conversation
Business Presentations Redefined
- Read in 10 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 6 key ideas
The Orderly Conversation (2014) is a guide to designing, preparing and delivering a killer presentation. These blinks explain why making a speech is different from presenting in a business context, and why strong presentations are just like a good conversation.
Key idea 1 of 6
A great presentation is a conversation, not a performance.
At one point or another, most of us will find ourselves in front of an audience, giving a presentation. But whether it’s a sales pitch or a project overview, there’s a big difference between a presentation and a performance.
A performance is much like a speech in that it’s scripted and pre-written. It’s carefully put together, rehearsed and totally controlled by the performer. For instance, when an actor gives a performance, he detaches his world from that of his audience, essentially putting up a wall that distinguishes between the performance and the real world.
So, while the last scene of Romeo and Juliet might be utterly convincing, the audience feels no cause for alarm when the actress playing Juliet commits suicide. And just like an actor, when a person gives a speech, he’s performing; his words are scripted and prepared, and the audience is well aware of this.
On the other hand, a presentation is unpredictable as there is a constant exchange between the presenter and his audience. In fact, this interplay is essential to bringing the presentation to life, capturing the interest of the audience and fostering a learning environment. There can’t be any wall between the presenter and the audience; as such, a presentation is less like a performance and more like a conversation.
But it’s not just any conversation. A presentation is an orderly conversation, because conversations can easily get off topic and stray in unproductive directions. So, for a presentation to stay on topic it needs some structure – a framework it can follow while maintaining some spontaneity.
This is a bit tricky because it means that as a presenter, you have to speak with a plan in mind, while also responding to changes and adapting to the uncertain trajectory of your presentation.