The Art of Presentation by Jim Stovall

Image 1 (6).jpg

Every great professional understands the difference between information and presentation. We all live in the information age and regularly deal with the advantages and the challenges that it offers us. If you only want to deliver information, a memo, e-mail, or even a text may suffice, but if you want to deliver emotion, attitudes, and impact, you need to employ the art of presentation.  

I am very proud, along with my esteemed coauthor Dr. Raymond Hull, of our book The Art of Presentation. As a professional speaker for more than a quarter of a century, I’ve come to realize that corporations and associations regularly pay me a considerable amount of money to deliver a small fraction of the material that is contained in just one of my 30-plus books. Obviously, they want more than mere facts or simple information. They want impact, emotion, and a memorable catalyst for change.  

If we were to take William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet, and reduce it to information, it might look something like “boy meets girl, their families disagree, tragedy ensues.” The difference between this terse phrase and Mr. Shakespeare’s enduring work of art is the difference between information and presentation.  

I’ve had the privilege of having six of my books turned into major motion pictures with several others in production at this writing. The difference between simple words on a page and emotion impactfully exploding on the silver screen illustrates the contrast between information and presentation; however, great writers—like great professionals—can turn their information into an unforgettable presentation. 

Simple phrases such as “Go ahead, make my day,” “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid,” or “May the Force be with you,” are not just communicating information. They are indelibly etched into the fabric of our society. One powerfully presented idea or concept can be a transformational experience in a person’s career or their life.  

As a young man, my only ambition in life was to be an All-American football player and then make my living playing in the NFL. The coaches and scouts who evaluate players assured me that I had the size, speed, and talent to make my dreams a reality. Then, one year during a routine physical in preparation to play another season of football, I was diagnosed with the condition that would cause me to lose my sight. My dreams were shattered, and I did, indeed, completely lose my sight by age 29.  

Many things contributed to my rehabilitation and the life I know today, but if I were to pick one transformational, fork-in-the-road turning point, it would have been listening to an audiotape of the bestselling author Dr. Denis Waitley. I wasn’t worried about making a living or living a normal life; I was simply wondering if I could ever get out of my little 9- by 12-foot room and walk the 50 feet to my mailbox. I sat for many days simply contemplating the overwhelming prospect of traversing those 50 feet down my driveway to the mailbox at the curb. As a totally blind person with no skills, it seemed impossible, but on that tape, Dr. Waitley offered more than information. He delivered a powerful presentation of the phrase “If you think you can, you can.” 

This may seem overly simplistic as all great truths do, but when powerful ideas come to life in transformational presentations, they change people who can, in turn, change the world. If we are to create these powerful presentations, we must, as my late, great friend and colleague Stephen Covey told us, “Begin with the end in mind.” 

If you know the emotion, attitudes, or change you want to come from any presentation, you can make it a reality.  

Today’s the day! 

Image 2 (2).png

This and other motivational pieces by bestselling author Jim Stovall can be found in his latest collection of columns, Wisdom for Winners Volume Four, an official publication of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Be sure to check out Jim Stovall and Raymond Hull’s The Art of Presentation, a must-read for anyone wanting to cultivate their public speaking abilities.