The famous 70%

The other day, a few of a client’s employees went to a presentation skills training. The trainer told them 70% of presentation is body language, voice tone, etc. My client asked me if I agree. This is what I told her:

That 70% figure is bullshit. It’s not bullshit because it’s inaccurate. Maybe that 70% is true, maybe it isn’t. I don’t know, and I don’t care.

That 70% figure is bullshit because of the effect it has on people. It causes them to think their ideas don’t matter. It causes them to get lazy with their content.

It causes them to think the key to a good presentation is having good posture, or good voice tone, or lots of eye contact.

Those things are important, of course. But the key to a good presentation is having something to say. If you have nothing to say, you’re just a pretty face up there on stage, a well-trained performing monkey at best.

In our trainings we typically spend the first few sessions working on nothing but content: what are you going to say, and why will your audience care?

Those first few sessions are the hardest. But if you don’t do that hard work up front, you can get the other 70% perfect, but your speech will be empty, forgotten by the next morning.

Say something that needs to be heard. A roomful of people are listening to the words coming out of your mouth. Rock their world. If you’re not going to do that, you’re wasting everybody’s time, including your own.

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