When I was 17 I worked for a week selling ice cream on a nudist beach in Andalucía in Spain. On my final day I got talking to a woman from London.
She was looking to hire a marketing executive and as I stood on a steaming hot beach in my birthday suit, she interviewed me for my first job.
I was completely exposed. But I learned something important that day and it’s a lesson I’d like to pass on to you: baring it all isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I want to challenge you to deliver your next presentation….naked!
Does the thought of that make you nervous?
If so, let me offer you some words of reassurance.
When I started presenting naked I was worried how people might react, but they were great — enthusiastic even — and now I present naked all the time.
And it’s not just me. Everyone I have encouraged to step away from the podium and present au naturel has done so to gasps of admiration from an engaged and appreciative audience.
Of course I’m talking about presenting or speaking without slides or notes (not without clothes).
You’d never be allowed back into a conference room in the country otherwise, right?
When I mean naked, I mean stripping away even those tiny cue cards nervous bridegrooms or jubilant Oscar winners carry in their jacket pockets, so that all the audience is focused on is you.
Why present naked?
Connecting with your audience is one reason.
If you’re sticking closely to a script, fumbling for the next cue card, or wondering which slide or bullet point comes next, you’re not connecting.
You’re also unlikely to be fully tuned in so you can adjust or adapt your material, to involve and interact.
You’ll come across as far more professional. It exudes confidence and builds trust and because your presentation is unscripted, it makes it more personal.
You can see if your audience is beginning to lose or gain interest in a particular section, allowing you to make the necessary adjustments as you speak.
And if you really want to create slides, instead of using them during your presentation, send them the following day to the attendees as a way of adding value to the relationships you have built.
How to do it in 3 easy steps
Follow this simple three point plan:
1. Distill your presentation to single word points.
For your next presentation, jot down the ideas you want to communicate onto a single sheet of paper.
Then distill each section in your presentation down into a single word.
For example, if you were delivering a talk on how to create a compelling marketing plan, you might write down words on your cue card such as:
Bring your cue card with you to your presentation.
2. Practice with the single words.
Once you have your cue card with your ‘one-word’ sections you need to prepare and practice.
Work on each of the sections so you can talk knowledgeably and coherently and time yourself for each section.
3. Rip up your notes
On the day of the presentation, take one last look at the cue card before you step onto the stage and rip it in two!
A surge of adrenalin will race through your body, but remind yourself, you are ready.
When I presented naked for the first time in a corporate setting, it was a 3-hour session in front of a small audience of 30 business people.
I met as many of them as I could beforehand so I could look for the friendly faces in the audience as I spoke.
Before I went on stage, like I have suggested for you, I tore up the single cue card I had been carrying as a crutch in my pocket.
To paraphrase Christopher Logue, I came to the edge, jumped and found I could fly.
I have helped hundreds of business executives, from middle management to boardroom level, to present naked and for them, it has been a tremendously empowering experience. Remember you still need to put in the work — practice is key — but once you go naked, you will never go back.
And as for my interview in Spain on the nudist beach as a 17-year old, you’ll be pleased to hear, the lady from London called a week later telling me I had got the job. (I also got an impressive tan to boot!)
Anthony Garvey has 30 years’ experience working in international public relations. He spent 9 years as Head of PR for Psion plc as it evolved from a small start-up to a FTSE100 company. Anthony now runs Confident Presenting which helps business executives become more powerful and persuasive presenters. He is also a writer and is working on his fifth children’s book.
This was originally posted on the SpeakerHub blog.