What I’ve Read Lately: The Naked Presenter

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“The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides”
by: Garr Reynolds
ISBN-10:  0-321-70445-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-321-70445-0

Naked Presenter jtpedersenBuilding on his book, Prezentation Zen, Garr Reynolds has cemented himself as one of my favorite authors.  Two basic reasons:

First, as an American living in Japan, he has adopted much of their lifestyle, and incorporates Zen concepts throughout his writing.  The effect, supported by wonderfully illustrated pages, is to have a wonderfully relaxing, engaging book-reading experience.

Second, the topic is one that more people should pay attention to: How to effectively communicate with your audience, whether in smaller groups or very large.  There is an alternative to Death by PowerPoint or Stroke by Keynote.

In The Naked Presenter, Garr opens with talking about just what he means.  The underlying essence comes from Japanese culture surrounding bath houses.  Here, it is not uncommon for teams (i.e. coworkers) to go to a bath house, much like we might view ‘team building’ exercises.  Everyone is naked.  Everyone is equal. No one has anything to hide behind.

Seems scary to the uninitiated, doesn’t it?

Applying this context to communicating, whether public speaking or in smaller groups, the naked presenter strives to remove barriers between themselves and everyone else.

Simple examples might include not using a podium, coming around away from it, actively eliminating it as a barrier. Use language well-suited to your audience, not allowing ‘academic’ language to create a barrier.  Thinking about how you dress, how you physically present yourself, so as to not create yet another barrier.

The examples I give are simple, they’re some of what Garr discusses, yet he goes so much further, so much deeper.  The intent is to give you a feel for just what the naked presenter is: someone who actively works to eliminate barriers to the ‘discussions’ they have with their listeners.

Key sections of the book include:

  • Preparation
  • Connecting with Punch, Presence, and Projection
  • Engaging with Passion, Proximity, and Play
  • Keeping, Sustaining, Audience Participation
  • Your Ending
  • Continuous, Persistent, Improvement

Like many movie sequels, I found the earlier book, Presentation Zen, to be my favorite.  On reflection though, I think it is largely because it was just that, my first introduction to Garr and his approach.

The Naked Presenter is another excellent book that I highly recommend to anyone doing presentations, public speaking, or otherwise ‘talking’ with say groups of 10 or more.