When we look at a skeleton, we start with the skull. Our eye does it for us. You didn’t really THINK about the image (if you can’t see the image I’m talking about it in RSS, go to my page to look). Instead, it’s just what we do. We look into the eye sockets. We follow the curve of the neck. It’s natural.
Storytelling and presentations (which is a form of storytelling) require a strong skeleton, and all the other parts of a body, to work well.
We must start with the head. Where are our eyes? What can we see? What’s our point of view? Move a little deeper. What’s inside our mind? What are we to think? A presentation must start from this perspective. You want to give us (the audience) an easy view into the topic you’ll cover.
Your presentation must travel along the spine, well-supported, and tying back into the head you’ve already shown us. It must feel connected. We must know which end is up and which is down.
The meat of your presentation comes after you’ve set up the head and spine. You’ve got us inside a body. We’re comfortable. We know we’re protected by the structure you’ve started.
Legs and Limbs
It’s okay to branch out, but only after we’re connected. Gestures are useful, but not unlike infants with no control of their hands, we need to know there’s an arm driving the hand, connected to a spine. (No leg bone songs, thanks).
We need strong legs to move the presentation through its paces. We need feet to hold it all upright. The presentation must be about this body of work and legs to move it to your conclusion.
The World Comes Last
Pulled all together, we have a fully considered, structured presentation with a strong start, a powerful and supportive frame, and plenty of meat to flesh it out. We have our vehicle into the world of the topic you’re presenting, because you’ve paid attention to the skeleton of the presentation, of the story between us.
Just like an author, a storyteller must be cautious. Pull us too fast into the story and we get whiplash. Feed us too little information and we’re hungry, and not paying attention. Give us too much to see at once, and our eyes hurt.
Consider your next presentation with this perspective. Does it change how you’d take your audience through the material? What would you change?
tags: presentation , storytelling, communication, speaking,writing