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10 Steps From Presentation to Performance


What Fred Astaire, Ronald Regan and

a Kid Playing the Piano Know . . . And You Don’t.


John W. Berglowe

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Can You Deliver a
Maybe . . .
A bad presentation is a crisis You’ll find tips on vocal
of communication. A good modulation used by stage
presentation is effective if your actors worldwide.
audience stays awake. But a
We’ll discuss the “Power
performance – a performance
Triangle” and how effective
can educate, communicate,
performers, like former actor
entertain and get you noticed.
turned President Ronald
As presenters we fall into bad Regan, use it well.
habits because we produce
There are tips about what to
what Guy Kawasaki calls “new
do with your hands, and how
sameness.” We see how
Fred Astaire recognized the
others deliver, how they use
importance of these oft
the same tools available to us
overlooked communication
and then we do the same thing
they did, and often just as
poorly. We’ll go beyond the
presentation and talk about the
We can do better, we simply
erosion of the average adult
have to be willing to be
attention span, and how to
different. And that’s harder
structure your performance to
than it sounds.
work with it (and perhaps more
Public speaking is difficult often, around it).
enough without the inherent
In short, I’m going to give you
risk in being daring. It takes
tools you can use to stop with
confidence to transition from
the boring presentations and
presenter to performer. It takes
start to execute singular
a certain level of commitment
performances which will
and bravery, and many are
differentiate you from the
unwilling to do it.
masses and more effectively
The following pages offer deliver your message…
some of what you’ve heard
But only If you have the guts
before – watch your point size,
don’t abuse PowerPoint, etc. to try.
But there is more.
1. PowerPoint Isn’t a Prop
It’s a Crutch –
We Have Confused The Medium For The Message

You can, but don’t never killed anyone, Of even less value
and no audience has than long-winded
PowerPoint offers the ever been wowed by bullets are the always
user a diverse array the creativity of their popular emphasized
of tools and speaker as bullets which
resources which demonstrated by their guarantee the
empower said user to selection of master audience pays close
completely ruin any slide. attention to points
chance of delivering generally of no
their message Some fear guns interest to anyone
effectively. We so other than the
often find ourselves I fear bullets.
doing something PowerPoint sadly
simply because the Do us all a favor –
prevents us from
tool says we can, that remember the rules
making terrible
we forget to ask if we of 3 and 7. Three
mistakes, and thus
should. bullets to a slide and
users can place an
no more than seven
Fancy backgrounds infinite number of
words to a bullet.
only an art major bullets on a single
Keep things simple
could love and print slide. And if the user
and concise – and in
flying into and out of isn’t creating their
the name of all that’s
the screen may have own mini-library of
holy, keep the
impressed audiences congress they might
emphasis in your
in the early 90’s, but I choose to write 30
voice and off your
assure you, your word bullet points
audience has seen it designed to assure
all before. any viewer the Clip art = bad
presenter has done
So, keep it simple – nothing to prepare. Enough said.
monochromatic slides
2. Structure
Build A Performance With The Audience In Mind

First seven minutes appropriate expectation for the audience.

Our attention spans are shrinking. In theater a narrator or other character

often “sets the scene” by telling the
TV gave way to YouTube and YouTube audience what is going on. You’re doing
gave way to Twitter. Now we can’t something similar here.
handle more than 125 characters at a After you tell them what you’re going to
time, or sit still for more than 30 minutes tell them, you can “Tell them in more
at a stretch. detail.” That is, you deliver your
The result? The average American adult performance employing all the tools
attention span is less than 7 minutes. contained in this e-book so that you
After that point your audience loses maximize the success of your delivery.
Last T and last 7 minutes
However, our attention spans are less
like a dropping straight off a cliff and As the performance approaches its
more like a reverse bell curve – with the climax, a funny thing happens. The
audience’s greatest focus at the audience begins to focus again.
beginning and the end of the This gives you a chance to hit them with
performance. your main themes one more time. Use
Compensate for this with the “3T’s”. the last 7 minutes to “Tell the audience
what your performance was about.” Use
the same language you used in the first
First two “T’s”
seven minutes, because repetition
Because you only have 100% of your supports remembering.
audience’s attention for the first seven So . . .
minutes it is important you structure
your performance accordingly. In that Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
seven minutes, you must deliver the key Tell them in more detail.
points of your entire presentation.
Then, tell them what you told them.
We call this, “Tell them what you’re
going to tell them.” When you do this it This “3T” structure works with our natural
assures the main points are delivered pattern of focus and provides the best
effectively, right up front, and sets an opportunity to deliver your message.
2-A. More Structure
Three Simple Facts About Handouts

1. The book is different from the movie

Many presenters provide a copy of their slides as a handout. This has become the
norm for reasons which often defy comprehension.
The audience already got that information from your performance, if you’re going
to provide handouts use them as an opportunity to tell the audience something
new. Provide additional details, another case study, other examples.
For audience members who insist on having a copy of the slides, offer to email it
to them.

2. If you give them handouts, they will read them

You have a choice. Give the audience a bunch of paper for them to read while
you’re speaking, or hold off on distribution until you’re done speaking so the
audience listens to you. No presenter in the history of Earth has distributed
handouts at the beginning of their performance and kept their audience enthralled.

3. If it doesn’t add value – don’t do it

Think about it. Why are you sharing this handout? Because it adds value to your
performance? Because it provides additional information the audience will find
valuable? Or, are you providing a handout just because everyone else does? If
the handout doesn’t truly add value, save trees – don’t use it.
3. Rehearsal is Required
Learn The Script – Prepare, Practice, Then Perform

The number one reason presenters rehearse enough they run the risk of
overload their slides with bad bullets performing badly, but if they practice too
is they haven’t prepared enough. much they may sound like a robot
They aren’t comfortable with their reciting the script.
content, so they hope to cheat by
Both are legitimate concerns.
“glancing” at their slides.
No presenter has ever just “glanced” . . . But perfect practice makes . . .
at their slides. At that first glance I will
all but guarantee you start reading So, how much do you have to practice?
from them full-time, directing your You practice until you know you’re ready,
attention away from your audience understanding that quantity of practice is
and towards the screen – at that less important than quality of practice.
moment, the jig is up.
When you rehearse – you must rehearse
Your audience will immediately everything. Your vocal pitch, your
embrace this manifestation of your movement around the stage, where your
unpreparedness and begin reading hands are and how you use your props.
your slides instead of listening to you.
You’ve just lost their attention, and Exactly what will you be doing or saying
any chance to deliver your message. when you reach the graph on slide four?
In Macbeth the king doesn’t arrive
Practice makes . . . downstage left, waving a sword with his
right hand in Act 3 by accident. Your
This is why you need to rehearse.
every movement or vocal modulation
You must take time to work out the shouldn’t be accidental either.
bugs, get comfortable with your
If you practice perfectly – if you rehearse
content, know what’s coming next in
consistently – you won’t need to cheat by
the presentation. Performer’s
looking at your slides, and you’ll certainly
rehearse again and again to assure
appear more polished and more
the performance goes well – why
does your presentation deserve less?
It truly may be the first time you have
I am often asked, “How much
ever delivered this material – but it never
rehearsal is enough?” Some novice
has to look like it.
performers are afraid if they don’t
4. Set Design
You’re The Stage Manager, Take Charge

Many times a the lights should be Arrive early and take

performer simply on (except for the few the time to get
must work with what by the screen) and comfortable in the
they are given. the podium should be room. Rehearse –
discarded as who cares if the
This section is about firewood. catering staff thinks
the other times. you’re crazy, pacing
There should be
Mostly. and talking to
enough space for you
yourself – they’re not
This section is about to move within the
the ones about to
you capitalizing on “Power Triangle”
speak in front of 350
the opportunity to (details on following
decide: podium or no pages) without
podium, where walking on your
Imagine people in
should the props go audience. Props
their seats and walk
and how should the should be easily
through the
lighting be set? This accessible. Other
performance. Adjust
section is about you than that – the room
to the environment as
controlling your should be set up
necessary – because
destiny, it is about however you want it
you have practiced
you as stage to be. So move the
so perfectly, and are
manager. plants, reposition the
so comfortable with
flip-chart and close
your performance,
Don’t be Afraid the blinds if you like.
these last-minute
If things go badly you The theater is yours. nominal changes are
are the only one who easily made.
will look like a jerk – However . . .
so don’t be afraid to In any case where you
take control. aren’t able to make
In an ideal world the things right, you must
AC should be cold, get right with the way
things are.
5. Blocking and Stage
Where You Are Says A Lot

Power Triangle
Blocking is where The narrow portion at the other characters between you and
actors stand when the stage edge (2) is to hear. your audience. It is,
delivering their lines. where you stand for all intents and
Below is the “Power when you want to This location denotes purposes, “center
Triangle”, and it “connect” with your intimacy. stage.”
represents Basic audience. This is The “neutral” location To see a great
Blocking 101. where you go to – designated here by example of the
make your point, this the fitting “N” – is
Presume the big solid Triangle at work,
is where you go to tell where you deliver the
line is the edge of the watch a presidential
a little secret, to bulk of your
stage and the little address by Ronald
share something just performance.
solid line is the edge Reagan.
between you and the
of your screen. This space provides
audience. As a stage actor and
When you stand back room for movement movie star Reagan
In stage plays actors without crossing the
near the screen (1) understood the power
will move to the front audience’s line of
you are in shadow. of the Triangle, and in
of the stage to deliver sight, or walking so
This gives emphasis spite of his TV
an internal far from the visuals
to the visuals and audience only being
monologue, insights you divide the
alerts the audience able to see his head,
for the audience to audience’s attention
as to where their he used it well.
enjoy, but not for (provided you stay
attention should be.
within the dotted When he talks
lines). numbers, he leans
1 back, for most of the
In this location you speech he sits up
are well lit, visible straight and when
N and in a visually
commanding position
wants to connect he
leans forward and
2 with no obstructions cocks his head.
Every time.
6. The Performer’s Voice
Did You See “Ferris Bueller”?

Ben Stein is cool

Ben Stein played the You’ll find great

now infamous role of examples illustrating
economics teacher in the benefit of
the neo-classic film combining
Ferris Bueller. appropriate vocal
modulation with
Best remembered for proper stage position
his monotone every Sunday
attendance-taking and morning.
introduction of voodoo
economics to millions Just watch any
of middle-American mega-church
moviegoers, Stein has preacher deliver a
also hosted a game sermon. There is a
show, made other reason why their
Vocal modulation By combining stage audiences fill football
movies and is a
means changing the position and vocal stadiums.
regular socio-political
pitch, tenor and pace pitch you will be able
commentator on TV.
of your voice in order to drive home key
Ben Stein is also a to emphasize (or de- elements of your
Yale grad and was a emphasize) what performance with
speechwriter for two you’re saying. It is the greater strength, and
presidents. bold, the underline create a more lasting
and the italics for impression than any
Who knew?
your voice. over-emphasized
All told he is a man PowerPoint bullet
It is also your best
with sufficient savvy ever could.
weapon against
and experience to
sleepy audiences. First watch Mel
know that a lack of
Gibson in Hamlet –
vocal modulation can Speak fast, speak
then watch your
put an audience right slow, be quiet, then
weird drunk uncle do
to sleep. yell! Force your
his robot impression.
audience to come
As his comedic
along for the ride, Now choose who you
characters often do.
make them listen. want to be.
7. The Performer’s Hands
Fred Astaire Knew . . .
You Really Do Talk With Your Hands

A Dancer’s Hands Our hands are peanut butter

powerful sandwich – take a
When Fred Astaire communication tools. minute to clarify the
was a young dancer In fact one of the first visual. Drop your
he was invited to do a things babies learn to arms to your sides
screen test for a do is wave “bye-bye”, and pause for just a
major Hollywood but do so by opening moment to “wipe the
studio. He returned and closing their slate clean”, then
several days later to hands with their launch into your next
view the film they palms facing in – example with “clean
shot and upon seeing after all, that is what hands.”
it swore he would they see when you
You don’t want the
never perform in wave at them.
audience wondering
public again. Why?
When presenters what the apple truck
Because of his “gross
“talk with their hands” and peanut butter
deformity.” That
they often use their orange have to do
being the “unnatural”
hands to represent with each other.
length of his fingers.
something – or more
Luckily cooler heads accurately, a lot of Hands matter
prevailed and Fred somethings. They are the only
went on to have a prop you will never
This can confuse the
very successful leave in the car. Keep
career. However, if them out of your
you ever watch Fred If you’re offering a pockets (again, in this
Astaire in a movie comparison and your case - don’t be Fred
you will often notice left hand represents Astaire) and leave
his fingers are curled an apple, and your your change, wallet,
in, he is wearing right hand represents keys, Swiss Army
gloves or his hands an orange, and your knife or anything else
are hidden in his next sentence is you might play with
pockets (don’t do going to compare a offstage.
that). Mack truck to a
8. Breaking the Fourth Wall
Interacting With The Audience

They’re watching Thus the “fourth up already so I may What, Not Do

wall” is “broken.” present an answer
A performer is said When you ask, “Do
You break the which demonstrates
to “break the fourth you have any
fourth wall when my brilliance to all.”
wall” when they drop questions for
you interact with
out of character or Don’t do that. me?” you provide
your audience –
speak directly to the your audience with a
taking questions, or Instead just maintain
audience, as if the Yes or No scenario.
better yet, asking eye contact with the
audience was part However, when you
some. This person asking the
of the performance. ask, “What questions
interaction is question, nod your
The phrase comes common, and head, but otherwise do you have for
from the idea that a routinely manifests remain non-verbal. me?” it forces them to
stage set actually the following errors. The impression is the ponder for a
has four walls, one same, sans the moment, “I don’t
of which is clear – Too Much Yup rudeness. know, what questions
allowing the do I have for you?”
audience to look in A member of the
audience asks a Repeat. Repeat Phrase your own
on the characters question properly and
who are otherwise question and the Before you answer
whole time the you will get more and
oblivious to the fact always repeat the
you’re mumbling, better questions from
they are being question. This
“Mmm-hmm. Yup. your audience, thus
observed. confirms you
Yup.” While demonstrating your
understood what is
In movies or intended to indicate audience's interest
being asked and
television shows an active listening, this and involvement. If
assures all heard the
actor may look right mumbling actually an audience has no
question – your
into the camera and says, “I’m so smart questions about your
answer without the
make a comment to I already know material, how do you
context of a question
the crowd (Ferris did what you’re going know they were even
is likely meaningless
this a lot). to ask, so wrap it listening?
to your audience.
9. Verbal Pauses
What A 6-Year-Old Piano Player Knows

What mistakes? apologize, “Oh Not impressive.

yeah! I forgot – I
When preparing for also wanted to And guess what? It’s
their first piano mention (insert not impressive when
recital the instructor mundane detail that you do it either.
told all the kids, “If no one else cares
you miss a note, It’s called a verbal
about here).”
miss a measure or pause and it’s
miss a section – it Don’t do that. If you unnecessary. If you
doesn’t matter, just forget a note, keep need a moment, if
keep playing!” playing. you lose your train of
thought, just pause.
Your audience Take a moment for
And Um . . .
doesn’t know what yourself. Your
you wanted to say Imagine – you’re at audience is going to
on slide seven, they Lincoln Center in notice a moment of
know what you told New York, silence less than
them. So don’t stop, watching a world- they’ll notice an army
keep going – they renowned stage of “and ums.”
don’t know you left actor perform the
something out lead role in Hamlet. Replace verbal
unless you tell them Here comes the pauses with non-
you did. And if you, pivotal moment – verbal pauses. You’ll
the well rehearsed the soliloquy you’ve sound more
performer, forgot a been waiting for! professional and no
detail – how one will notice
“To be or ummmm .
important can it something was
. .to ah, not be.
really be? amiss.
That is the, umm
So often presenters question. So . .
double back and uhhh, what’s next?”
10. Most Important
The Thing Every Performer Knows

They say people go to auto races because they want to see a wreck – that’s not why
they come to performances.
No audience wants to be bored, no audience wants to judge you and no audience is
there to see you fail.
Know what all great performers know. Keep this critical knowledge in the back of your
mind always. It will empower you to do things differently, it will enable you to take risks.

Know . . . the audience WANTS you to succeed.

So, Can You Deliver a
Performance Now?
Definitely . . .
Once again, a bad As performers we know to use
presentation is a crisis of our hands well, because these
communication. A good two props can say a lot.
presentation is effective if your
As performers we know
audience stays awake. But a
breaking the fourth wall is a
performance – a performance
great way to keep the
can educate, communicate,
audience’s attention, but we
entertain and get you noticed.
have to do it right.
As performers we know we are
As performers we know verbal
the star of the show, and our
pauses are distracting, while
message is most important.
non-verbal pauses enhance
PowerPoint is a tool we use,
the performance.
and not an impressive one at
that. As performers we know our
audience is on our side. We
As performers we know to
know we have skills to
structure our performances so
educate, inform and entertain.
our key points are delivered
when the audience is most We have the confidence
focused. necessary to be different and
stand out from the masses of
As performers we know to
lackluster presentations which
practice our performance and
have sadly become standard.
control our environment to
assure success.
As performers we know how
As performers we
we say it, and where we say it, know we have what it
is as important as what we takes to do better,
say. Blocking and vocal
modulation are powerful tools. and we will.
Who is this guy?
Meet John W. Berglowe – The Author

He is an award winning public

speaker who has entertained
and educated audiences large
and small.
Over a diverse ten-plus year
career he has worked with
public agencies, global
corporations and run his own
companies (which was really,
really hard).
Along the way John has
empowered other
communicators and converted
many “presenters” into
“performers” – ultimately to the
benefit of thousands of
audience members worldwide.
“Effective communication is a
science and an art worth our
time to study and perfect. It is
a skill set we can develop and
make stronger.”

Visit John at
to learn more!

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