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Rule #6: Don’t take yourself so &@*% seriously

May 11, 2010

Any of you who have read ‘The Art of Possibility” by Ben and Roz Zander will recognize the title immediately.

If you haven’t read that but you’ve read Garr Reynolds’ book presentationZen then you should recognize the Zander name—if not, go reread Chapter 8 of Garr’s book, starting at pg 195. I’ll wait…

.. .okay, I see we’re back…

On the surface, “Art of Possibility” has little to do with presentation skills, but here’s what Garr has to say about Ben and the book: “.. .that same day I bought [the book] and was inspired…. Ben Zander is one of those gifted few who is in another league (of presenters).”  He’s right. I’ve read the book and had the privilege of spending a little time with both the Zanders. All were amazing experiences. Actually ‘amazing’ is wrong, life-changing is better, but sounds like mere hyperbole.

One of the chapters in Art of Possibility is Rule #6. (Spoiler alert: there are no other rules.) The point applies to everyone, including and, maybe especially, presenters. It is crucial that you take your topic, your talk and your audience seriously. But keep reminding yourself of Rule #6 and don’t get lost in yourself.

There’s a part of you, the part Roz calls the “calculating self,” that no matter how successful and competent you are, feels weak, feels like you’re a “fake” and feels at risk of losing it all. In some of us it’s buried deeper than others, but it is there and one way that part expresses itself is when we take ourselves so seriously that we can’t be human, can’t make a mistake, can’t be real.

Good presenters get past taking themselves so seriously, they can see the humor and humanness around them and in themselves. They let themselves be genuine, be enthusiastic, be truly in-the-moment and as a result, they connect with the audience.

If you want to see what connecting with an audience looks like, watch Ben in action at I don’t ever expect to even be remotely that good, but I have benefited from what the both of the Zanders teach.

If you connect, you’re going to have impact.
Just don’t get in the way–Remember rule #6.


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