If Your Idea is Big, Don’t Look Small When You Present It

Bob Wiesner | September 12, 2017

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One of the true gurus of presentations and pitching skills – Peter Rogen – used to say “Big ideas require big space.”  He was usually referring to the physical size of display of the idea (which was often boards or overheads).  He was also referring to the “size” of the presentation and the presenter.

It’s still astounding to see so many presentations of big, transformative ideas – whether in advertising, innovation, technology or strategic planning – that are just plain small.  What do I mean by “small?”

  • Presentations that keep the audience’s focus on a series of dense PowerPoint slides, which inevitably mask the bigness of the idea.
  • Presentations that lack a simple, coherent, compelling storyline.
  • Presenters who rush through the presentation with few pauses, not allowing the big idea to sink in, to resonate in the room.
  • Presenters who literally diminish their stature by sitting instead of standing; using small gestures with “T-Rex arms,” staying rooted to one spot, suppressing their energy, confidence and enthusiasm.

I think these four areas have actually become a greater problem over the years.  Maybe it’s our reliance on technology, or how unaccustomed we are to face-to-face selling.  Maybe we are granting power to the buyer and not allowing ourselves to feel powerful.

But there’s no doubt about it.  Big ideas require big space. And that means big styles of presenting. The confidence to reduce the reliance on PPT.  The assertiveness that accompanies a strong selling message.  And the power that’s conveyed from bigger voices, bigger gestures, more movement.

Amy Cuddy’s work on “power posing” and “your body can change your mind” has given many presenters a way into this power, this bigness.  Since her transformative Ted Talk in 2012, there’s been much more research to validate her findings.  While some of the research results are less than fully supportive, the bulk of it shows clearly that “expansive postures” are associated with feelings of power and confidence.  And both are required for effectively selling big ideas.

The “postural feedback effect” is a thing.  Use it as one of your tools to give your big ideas the big presentation they need.

(Image: NYMag)

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