Smart presentation advice from a crystal ball & chiseled stone

June 21, 2016 - 7:52 pm
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Susan Batson is a world-famous acting coach who has worked with clients such as Nicole Kidman and Juliette Binoche, Jennifer Lopez and Chris Rock.

On the entrance table where students sign in is a stone with the word “wisdom” engraved into it, along with a crystal ball. These are the totems of Batson’s approach, according to the New York Times — she is teaching her students to embrace insights along with imagination.

These two ingredients are also essential for captivating and meaningful presentations — whether pitching an idea to decision makers or giving a speech to a large audience.

People often give presentations packed full of facts and figures, but then forget to add a touch of magic with images and interaction, stories and examples. Those presentations typically bore more than soar.

And some folks give talks filled with fun, fantasy and frivolity. But they forget wisdom, so they quickly lose credibility and leave audiences empty-handed when it comes to information and insights.

But think about great presenters you’ve seen and heard, ones that reached grabbed your attention and projected their message with passion, clarity and conviction.

Without doubt those presenters displayed wisdom — they knew their stuff and offered lots of relevant insights.  But they also added imagination and visualization to help entertain and energize audiences.


One classic example was when Steve Jobs introduced the Macbook Air to a MacWorld audience. He had lots of figures and facts, benefits and features to share about his new product — but first he magically pulled the Macbook Air from a standard manila envelope to demonstrate the product’s light weight and thin profile.

Of course, there’s much more than insights and imagination involved in successfully presenting ideas and public speaking — things like body language and vocal skills, confidence and likeability, awareness and identity.

But when it comes to content, compelling presenters start by focusing on two important elements: Wisdom + Magic.

The next time you’re preparing to present — whether it’s pitching an idea to your decision makers or giving a talk to an audience — take a close look at your content.

Does it display wisdom and provide insights? And does it also emanate imagination, perhaps even a hint of magic?

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