Master Presenting

Stop The Awkwardness—Present with Confidence

The Way of Presenting to the Creative Crowd

Photo Credit: daniel.d.slee via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: daniel.d.slee via Compfight cc

I want to talk a bit about “creative” people and how to talk to them. We can get into some danger because I can hear your outcries already, “Everyone is creative! I wrote three haikus last week! We did a folk art puzzle and then Mod Podged it all night long!” I get that. And I get that your audience or potential audience is creative. 

But I’m talking about people who create art every day as their career. Designers. Writers. Web architects, etc. These are people who live and breathe Pantone and grammar. They read Lifehacker and they have already seen that trendy, viral YouTube video. Perhaps one of them made it. 

When you present to them, whatever it may be, you need to change your tactics a tad. Not a full 180 degrees, mon frere, but a change is necessary. 

Embrace Absurdity.

I recently came across this gem from the fellas at Fizzle (they teach about online businesses and they are hilarious). This is Darius Kazemi, talking about the creative process, but he frames his talk around “the lottery.” The crowd has this nervous, beautiful laughter. Is this guy serious? Where is this going? And he talks at such a pace, a quick pace that it just gets more and more absurd. Take the time to watch this video. Game. Changer. 

If you are talking to a crowd that gorges on TED talks, Mashable and knows what the most viral video is right that second you have to change up your game. You have to go out of the gate with something so weird that they tilt their head like my dog when I play Taylor Swift every morning. Be a little crazy because anything close to normal will bore this audience. Don’t dab the Siracha in, just drop in the bottle and light it on fire. 

Highlight Your Failures. 

Want to crush the audience’s dreams? Tell about all your successes. Tell us how you tried the first time and lo and behold you achieved your dreams. Your first 20 cold calls were 100% effective with this simple formula. The creative crowd doesn’t work that way. They’ve tried every iteration of of a hundred projects. They can spot the B.S. at 100 yards. 

Talk about your failures. Talk about how you messed up in your parenting and your marriage. Talk about when the client lit your work on fire and said, “This is amateur hour. This is bush league. I’m out of here.” Anything where you hit bottom is what your creative audience needs. We’ve tasted failure and some of us have drown in it. Let us know you’re part of that club—your scars—your vulnerability—that’s what gets us to focus.

Deliver Hope.

Creative people, people who display their art, music and writing to the world get punched in the gut a lot. It’s not that people don’t like their work, but when the audience responds with a “Meh”, the soul takes a bit of a bruising. Whatever you are talking about, discuss the hope and impact that comes with the work of being creative. 

Creative work is thankless, (mostly) low paying work, give long hours and short criticism. But as a speaker, the greatest impact you can have on that crowd is show the value of the work they do.

(Thanks to Chase Reeves from, pointing me in the direction of this genius video.)

About Ryan McRae

Ryan McRae has presented all over the world from South Africa to Afghanistan. He has spoken and designed presentations for Fortune 100 companies and wants this tech-focused culture to be able to speak well and with confidence.

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