The Big Fish Blog

Do a Little Dance, Make a Big Point


What is the most creative presentation you’ve seen?

I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that it wasn’t a PowerPoint slideshow.

The truth is that most presentations aren’t exciting or entertaining. They consist of a series of images and text, conveying a message in a very straightforward way. We’ve experienced these presentations many times in our lives. We know they aren’t what they could be, and we know they’re fixable, but a lot of people have problems with changing their habits. It’s hard to break tradition, and PowerPoint has established itself as a standard tool in the presentation industry.

So, how do we change the status quo? How can we break tradition?

We dance.

This is a bold decision that involves being different in your approach to conveying information. Just because you’re showcasing numbers, business tactics or reports doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. You can mix it up in a way that in unexpected and, believe it or not, fun.

In 2011, Dr. John Bohannon introduced the idea of the “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest. This contest involves the explanation of scientific theorems, breakthroughs and observations through dance. Participants use a variety of choreographed dances with their speeches that supplement the information with an off-the-wall approach to science. In Dr. Bohannon’s TED talk, he gives a thorough explanation and example of how the arts, specifically dance, can help portray information in an effective way.

So, why dance?

It may seem very strange, but just hear me out.

This is simply a theory that I’d like to tie-in to the idea of pumping life into your presentations. It’s all about creativity and inspiration. By using the human form to deliver a message, the audience not only gets to see the information being “acted out,” but is also being exposed to a lot of motion and activity. This keeps them more engaged than a series of bullet points or a few pictures. It livens up the crowd by inviting them to a place where ideas can flow freely in different forms, where knowledge is a tangible, substantial thing.

Now, Dr. Bohannon’s theory is an interesting one that can technically be applied to any topic. According to him, it’s a versatile technique that makes any situation clearer and more engaging, which increases your resonation with the audience. However, in reality, this theory is not completely necessary for every aspect of presentations. For example, you wouldn’t dance every monday for your business update presentation or for every lecture as a teacher (unless you’re a dance teacher. In that case, you better be dancing.). It’s just not feasible or realistic to completely revamp every presentation to reflect this theory. I’ve included the dance theory as a way to give you an example of how to spark a revolution in your presentations.

The main takeaway from this is that creativity is absolutely necessary for a great presentation. Your audience is your primary focus, so why are we still giving boring slideshows full of small text and bullet points? It’s time to stand up and work harder for your audience. It’s time to make yourself, your message and your presentation a memorable experience that leaves people informed, inspired and intent on taking action.

It doesn’t have to be dance. It can be related to the arts, like drama, music, stories, etc. But it can also be other things like audience interaction, videos or props being incorporated into the presentation. Anything that is presented to your audience in an original, innovative way can give your idea a fresh angle and can significantly improve your performance and subsequently your feedback.

Your message is the backbone of your presentation, but it doesn’t have to be rigid. You can combine your content with creativity to create a harmonious blend of engaging material.

You can sum this all up in five words:

Create action by inspiring change.

So, what do you think? Do you have any cool presentation experiences that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them! Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Do a Little Dance, Make a Big Point

  1. Great column, and thanks for the link to Bohannon’s TED talk. But I would flip your final five words around:

    “Inspire change by creating action.”

    For me, that’s advice that I can act on as a speaker (and I do already). While it’s great to use dancers on stage, don’t forget that you have an entire audience to work with. And if you get them physically involved in your presentation, if you can make them part of the content delivery process, if they become an integrated part of both the message and the medium, then won’t you have a better chance of reaching them, and of instilling change in their thoughts and their future behaviors?

    • Hey Alfred! I really like your twist on that phrase. You’re totally right. Audience engagement is a crucial part of any great presentation. Dancing and movement is a great way to inspire people to think about doing things a little differently. If anything, it’s because they are moving around in a presentation, which is different! That kind of thing sticks with an audience member and makes the speaker more memorable. Thanks for the feedback, Alfred!

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