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100 days to the election – if it were a presentation, they should do an Argentine tango

So, it’s almost 100 days until the general election! That’s quite a marathon for those involved – a test of endurance and energy. How are they going to keep themselves motivated/excited/engaged? And how are they going to maintain our interest and enthusiasm?

The same questions, albeit on a smaller scale, come into play when delivering a presentation. One of the biggest challenges for any speaker is to manage both their own and their audience’s energy. Whether it’s for five minutes or two hours, the speaker must take people with him/her; manoeuvre them round their dance floor of ideas (ideally in the style of Astaire and Rogers rather than Widdecombe and Du Beke).

Success is all down to choreography, as the great master of presentations Steve Jobs exemplified. It’s about mapping how you are going to structure your time, minute by minute, being mindful that audiences have an ever diminishing concentration span.

So, ask yourself how and when you are going to introduce elements of contrast (a visual, a prop, a demo, a quotation, an exercise, a question to the audience)? Might you walk from one side of the stage to the other – physical movement being a useful choreography tool? When will you challenge them; surprise them; inspire them? And at which point in the presentation will it be useful to show vulnerability; demonstrate expertise; unveil innovation?

All this needs to be deliberately thought out and planned in advance in order to avoid the stream of consciousness style of presentation which we’ve all seen all too often.

And then there’s rehearsal – out loud, in real time, at performance level. This is vital in helping you experience the structure/flow/rhythm of the presentation and in helping you identify where you might suffer a dip in energy. You can then take steps to counter that potential low patch – an engaging visual; audience participation; an Argentine tango….

Remember, though, whatever the components you select for your presentation, be sure that they are relevant and appropriate for the audience and that they are authentic to your style/brand.

If you harness all those elements, you could probably sustain them for a hundred days.