Polishing Performance Ep04: Content Types

No matter if you are telling a story or focusing on data or both in your next talk, you'll want to move seamlessly between delivery of the different kinds of content. From an overall perspective, the type of talk you deliver can be even more effective by using character to inform your presentation style.


  • Minimize Your Data

    Keep it easy to explain, easy to digest, easy to perform.

  • Create Character

    Work to develop different performance personalities to suit different types of talks you might deliver.

  • Feel Your Surroundings

    Put yourself firmly inside of your story as you tell it. Feel the scene from inside of it.

See your surroundings. I have a story that I talk about … There’s a scene in the hospital, and when I talk about that scene I can sense it. I know what it smells like. I know there’s this sterile feeling. I know all of those things about it. That helps me inform the story.Kymberlee

Kymberlee: When I'm working with clients, a lot of times their talks will have a combination of storytelling, but also they'll be getting into some facts and figures and different kinds of hard data.

Alan Irwin: Right.

Kymberlee: Now, from a performance perspective there might be different treatments for those two types of deliveries, right?

Alan Irwin: Right.

Kymberlee: You separated it out, when you're doing content for the data, versus when you're telling a story.

Alan Irwin: Right, and I can speak a little bit about making data part of the presentation because that's what I do a lot. The key to all of that is minimizing it on a particular display, in other words, one graph, simple, something that's easy to understand.

Kymberlee: Simple.

Alan Irwin: Easy to explain. One graph. One slide. Next graph, slide. Something that you could easily draw on a chalkboard to get a point across. Also think about how you're presenting the data, because you may want to change your presentation style based on the data, or the type of presentation you are making. When I was going through all of these exercises one of the things I talk about is character. What I mean by character, at least in this context is, who are people who do well when they're presenting data, versus somebody who is good at presenting other information. Look at what they do differently and think about taking that on.

Create the character that can present that data or that type of presentation well and I literally structured my presentations that way. There is my professor presenter, there is the sympathetic, when I'm dealing with social service discussions, and then there's when I'm trying to be entertaining and trying to make the audience laugh. Those are different personalities, because I'm giving different types of information.

Kymberlee: One thing I would encourage you to do, if you have a topic goes from story into data and visa versa, is make that transition seamless. We don't want to know, "Oh, Kymberlee is now telling a story and she is in the story, but now she is explaining data and she is in teacher mode." We really don't want you to give that away to the audience and let them know what's coming. Instead, they should feel like they're having an experience. I want everyone to think of your talks as giving the audience an experience and so with that there might be a story. As you are sharing the story, you really want to have that awareness of where you physically are. I just want to also mention that when you're storytelling, you want to place yourself inside that story.

Alan Irwin: Right.

Kymberlee: See your surroundings. I have a story that I talk about and there's a scene in the hospital. When I talk about that scene I can sense it. I know it is hot or it is cold. I know what it smells like. I know there's this sterile feeling. I know all of those things about it. That helps me inform the story.

Alan Irwin: Absolutely and you can immediately see the differences in a presentation. You know what you would need. For instance, I'm talking about suicide or preventing suicide versus when I'm talking about how to give a good speech, right? Those are going to have completely different ways of doing that presentation. That's when I take on the different characters or the different characteristics I want to use in a talk.

Kymberlee: You can use some of those tools as you are now working on the performance and up-leveling the talks that you're going to give.

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  1. Would giving a more specific examples of this topic be including content value you would rather add to your clients later?

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