The world suddenly seemed a duller place in mid-September 2009 when the flamboyant chef Keith Floyd passed away.
Sad though this event was, it might just be the starting point to liven up presentations. (Heaven knows, many of them could do with it.)
Let’s imagine we could ask Keith for his recipe for the perfect presentation. What do you think his ingredients would be?
“Simple, dear boy,” I think he’d answer. “Do things differently, be passionate, have fun, step outside the script – and have a slurp.”
He certainly did things differently. Before Mr Floyd, cookery shows on the TV were somewhat staid affairs: studio-based, a little bit cold and clinical, taking each stage of the recipe in turn.
Keith changed all that. A documentary on his life shown the night he died said that he “burst onto the screen”. He was larger than life.
Doing things differently
He bounced around, gesticulated, laughed, got cross – and came over as a friend. He took the show outside the studio and talked to farmers, fishmongers and other suppliers. He cooked meals on the shoreline, in restaurants, even on board ship.
Doing things differently is a good plan for presentations too. Just as no one could forget Keith Floyd on TV, you want people to remember you too – and to look forward to your presentations. What could you do that no one’s ever seen before in an office setting? Thinking along these lines could help to free your imagination.
Keith Floyd was nothing if not passionate. He loved what he did – and sometimes got frustrated with those who didn’t share his passions. In the same way, if you get excited about your subject and communicate your enthusiasm, you’ll have your audience in the palm of your hand. Conversely, if you don’t seem to care about what you’re saying, why should they?
Having fun is also vital. Keith always seemed to be enjoying himself, down to his signature bow-tie and his constant wineglass in hand. You might be presenting on a weighty topic, but a little fun, a little humour, never goes amiss. Never forget that your audience is composed of human beings (even if you’re sometimes inclined to doubt it). Lightening things up now and then helps to add variety to a presentation.
Stepping outside the script
Stepping outside the script is an excellent idea. A typical instance from Keith was when he was making coq au vin. He interjected a story about Napoleon always ordering his troops to salute the vineyards of Gevrey Chambertin every time they walked past them. In a sense, not much to do with the subject matter – but it brought it alive. Anecdotes and personal details can do the same thing when you’re going through your script.
And so to Keith’s last suggestion. Sadly, having a slurp while you’re presenting to your business colleagues would probably be going a bit too far.
But if you follow Keith’s presentation recipe to the letter, you might well feel like celebrating with a glass of wine afterwards.
By David Vickery