This month we’ll be taking a look at Presentation Zen by internationally acclaimed communications expert, Garr Reynolds. Reynolds will challenge you to think differently about how you make presentations. Whether it be for kids on Sunday morning or at your monthly church board meeting, it’s time to take a different look on the way you prepare, design and deliver presentations.
This week will start with the book’s introduction—challenging you to consider a new approach, not a new method, to presenting in today’s world.
Don’t let the title of this book fool you—the author isn’t using “Zen” in the literal sense but more as an analogy—to challenge the reader to think outside of the traditional practices of making a presentation and consider a way that’s different, simpler, more visual and natural, and ultimately more meaningful. Reynolds introduces readers to presentations that connect with the audience to evoke emotion that persuades and informs, rather than regurgitates a list of what has already been presented verbally.
In his introduction, Reynolds asks readers to consider giving up what they’ve learned about making presentations in the era of PowerPoint and Keynote—programs that have left presenters with poor habits of using cookie cutter design and delivery methods. It’s time to let go of the presentation that basically creates multimedia documents and instead, encourages presenters to use multimedia to tell a story that’s both engaging and memorable.
Reynolds highlights key principles found in Daniel Pink’s bestseller, A Whole New Mind (Riverhead Trade). In this book, Pink highlights “six senses” or “right-brain directed aptitudes” that are important to keep in mind when creating memorable presentations. Here’s a quick glimpse at the “six senses:”
- Design – A great design should never be consciously noticed by the observer/user. It starts at the beginning by considering these things as before you even start preparing: your topic, objectives, key messages and audience.
- Story – When you were a child, it’s almost certain that you likely looked forward to your Show-n-Tell day. People are drawn to story and enjoy presentations that show the presenter’s personality, character and experiences. “Story” will make your presentations more engaging, persuasive and memorable.
- Symphony – This is the ability to take seemingly unrelated pieces to form and articulate them into the presentation’s bigger picture. It’s about utilizing the whole mind—logic, analysis, synthesis and intuition—to determine what really matters most in a presentation.
- Empathy – Emotion; putting yourself in the shoes of your audience and taking notice when they’re “getting it” and when they’re not. Then taking your “read” of the audience and making adjustments along the way.
- Play – Laughter is always a good thing, especially in presentations. It’s not about cracking corny jokes; it’s about including old-fashioned humor into your presentations.
- Meaning – Excitement. Passion. Fulfillment. If you present it, your audience will feel it.
Think on This
Consider the presentations you make on a regular basis—how do they integrate or not integrate the “six senses”? How can you improve on evoking emotion with your audience? What are things you need to let go of in your current presentation style?