21 Paradoxes of Presenting

Isn’t there enough to do when you’re preparing for a presentation? Besides the obvious, you’ve got to navigate the delicate balances below:

  1. Be brief, but take your time.
  2. Be yourself, but fill the room.
  3. Be confident, but show your vulnerability.
  4. Relax, but use your nerves.
  5. Demonstrate your expertise, but speak their language–not yours.
  6. Appeal to their self-interest, but don’t pander.
  7. Make a strong case for your point of view, but provide fair balance.
  8. Be passionate, but don’t lose your cool.
  9. Stand up for your ideas, but make sure you’re still viewed as a team player.
  10. Show that you care, but not too much.
  11. Stand still, but move closer to the audience at key moments.
  12. Use your hands to gesture, but don’t gesticulate.
  13. Dress one step better than your audience, but don’t be showy.
  14. Be real, but don’t let them see you sweat.
  15. Be the leader, but defer to your boss if she’s in the room.
  16. Rehearse your ass off, but sound like you’re making it up as you go along.
  17. Look people in the eye in order to read their facial expressions, which is being assertive in order to be empathetic.
  18. Point to items on the screen, but stay connected with your audience.
  19. Craft a powerful opening and a dynamite closing, but keep the middle clear and simple.
  20. Be persuasive, but don’t be salesy.
  21. Be authentic, but don’t draw attention to your weaknesses and undermine your credibility.
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