Archive for the ‘Presentation Skills’ Category

Abe Lincoln, Visually Speaking

Friday, June 1st, 2007

I just got back from the Lincoln Museum in Springfield Illinois, which is, without a doubt, the museum with the widest range of multimedia elements I have ever seen.

Whether you are 6 or 60, the exhibits are engrossing and visually compelling. One life-size exhibit showed a slave mother being torn away from her child and husband. While I looked at the wax figures, I also read the statistics on the number of slaves sold, year by year. Beside me a child was mesmerized by the raw drama that the figures embodied.

Artifacts, movies, wax figure displays, live actors, and holograms bring the dry details of history into vivid reality. Even if you’re a reader, as I am, you find yourself drawn to a video that starts just because it is colorful and kinetic. In contrast, the Lincoln Library next door has many important, framed documents, but none of the imagery or excitement.

What’s the take-away for business? What insight does this museum offer a presenter? That in speaking to a group, a presenter walks the fine line between information and entertainment. Strong images (instead of PowerPoint text slides) make information come alive and pull in the viewer. And it’s just plain entertaining as well.

Bush vs Blair — the Visual Comparison

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

As I watched President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair speak side by side again, I thought how dramatically different their delivery skills are. Putting aside their words, Bush as always came across as defensive and negative. When not speaking, his mouth formed his usual half sneer. He leaned on the lectern, emphasizing this barrier between himself and the audience. He admonished listeners by pointing his finger at them to emphasize his points. (Didn’t his mother tell him that pointing was impolite?) As he concentrated, Bush narrowed his eyes and looked down at the audience condescendingly.

Blair, by contrast, appeared positive, open and forthright. He stood straight without using the lectern as a crutch. His gestures appropriately emphasized his messages. His eyes were open and his gaze was expansive, looking both up and out. Even leaving aside his intelligence and his command of the English language, he is a stellar example of a confident and polished speaker. He appears to speak from the heart.

It’s enough to make you want to join the Commonwealth.