Why Presentation Matters


[“This Moment”. You can buy the print here etc.]

Earlier today I was thinking of certain “thought leader” friends of mine, people that I know personally. Rockstars in their field.

Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Kathy Sierra, Gary Vee, Prof. Brian Cox, Joi Ito, Ben Hammersley, Doc Searls etc.

Looking for a common thread, it suddenly hit me- besides being hugely talented in their field and the aforementioned rockstardom, what else do they have in common?

Short answer: Presentations. They’re all REALLY REALLY good at standing in front of a crowd and wowing them. Every one of them. I’ve seen them. They knock your socks off. No wonder they get invited to speak at TED, SXSW and other places. No wonder they’re able to command the big bucks for doing so.

And then, when you look at the great world-changing figures in history, you see the same. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Cicero, Winston Churchill, or Shakespeare’s fictional Henry V (“We band of brothers, we happy few” etc.)- it’s right there, front and center. The presentation.

And then if you read your ancient history, what were the most privileged people in Rome and Athens taught how to do as part of their classical education? That’s right. The art of Oration. Again, presentation. This explains why getting on the debating team at Oxford or Harvard is still considered a big deal for anyone in the know.

For anybody who ever aspires to lead.

So the question I’m asking is, if presentation is SUCH an obvious part of the magic leadership formula throughout the ages, and leadership is so integral to success, why isn’t presentation better taught in schools nowadays? Why aren’t third graders taught how to use Powerpoint, as standard? Why isn’t presentation emphasized as highly as say, grammar or history or math or athletics?

The reality is, the average person doesn’t spend one-hundredth the time working on their presentation skills, as they do on their hobbies or watching TV or going to the gym or whatever.

I think that might be a mistake…

[AFTERTHOUGHT: Yes, I know. Presentation isn’t everything. Steve Jobs’s legendary keynotes wouldn’t be nearly so impressive if Apple products sucked etc. But that’s not an excuse, either.]