The joy of presenting naked

In my previous post, I wrote about a situation in which I was confronted with a broken projector, and as such (almost) forced to present “nakedly”. For those who might get wrong thoughts: naked presenting is delivering a presentation without slides (and without hesitation.)

It’s nothing new. The art of storytelling dates from long before PowerPoint and the projector were ever invented. But nowadays, too manypresenters hide themselves behind their slide deck. Although some of the best public speakers I know don’t need (and a few of them don’t use) any visuals to deliver an outstanding talk.

bare_feet

Naked presenting lets you concentrate on your audience and on your message instead of on your Powerpoint-style presentation tools (see also my reasons for not using Prezi.)

For a naked presenter, less is more!

  • When you need to invest less time in graphic material preparation, you can spend more time on building your story, and practicing and rehearsing it.
  • When you’re relying less upon the laptop in front, you have more space to move around the stage and face the people in the back of the room.
  • When you count less on the sexiness of your slides, you may discover the expressive power of your voice and body language.
  • When you give them no slides to read from, people will more attentively listen to your words.
  • When you put less energy in trying to impress your audience (don’t confuse a naked presenter with an exhibitionist!,) you will probably establish a better emotional contact with them.

If –after all these convincing arguments– you’re still too shy to go full monty in front of your customers, you can leave your hat on... and use a flip chart and a few markers to cover your nakedness.

A final note for those in the audience: things may not always be what they seem. It’s a known fact that even Barack Obama uses a teleprompter on the sly.

If you have some spare time, read the revealing Presentation Zen post about presenting naked by Garr Reynolds, as well as these other articles:

Replace the lamp

It happens so now and then that, just when you want to start your presentation, a message shows up on the screen behind you that urges you to replace the projector lamp… Luckily for me, the last time this happened, there was an A/V technician around who fixed the problem in a matter of minutes, and I could deliver my talk as planned.

replace_lamp

This incident, however, made me reflect about why we –business presenters and public speakers– are actually so addicted to slideware, and why some of us seem to be completely helpless without Powerpoint, Keynote or Prezi.

  • Surely we’re all part of a visual culture. In our daily lives we are bombarded with a plethora of (static and moving) images offered by billboards, magazines, TV, social media and web pages that “help” us better ingest, digest, and retain information. Illustrations can make things more clear, more visible or more manifest. Children’s books are often illustrated with colorful pictures. The illustrations are as much a part of the experience with the content as the written text.
  • Some speakers (including me) are picture thinkers. I design my presentations on the back of a napkin and, most of the time, I have a graphical representation in mind even before I know the exact words of what I am going to tell. If you’re in the same situation, then make sure that what you show is complementary to what you say.
  • Other presenters use slides because they have a bad memory –at least that’s the excuse they come up with for not spending enough time on preparation and rehearsal– or want to add a level of detail to their story that is too complex for oral transmission. Data visualizations and infographics are good examples of how pictures may add value to words. But always beware of texty slides and bulleted lists!

Next time I enter the stage, I might just ignore the projector (even when the lamp is not broken) and start presenting “naked”…  Stay tuned for a testimonial about the joy of naked presenting in a next blog post!

More reading about visual thinking and slide design: