Halloween horrors of putrid PowerPoints

It’s the time of year for poltergeists, potions, and possession by the cadaverously candy-crazed.

But possession by PowerPoint??

‘Tis true. ‘Tis hideous true.

Forget Sleepy Hollow. Cast your gaze, and cast it nervously upon this creepy little Halloween number from my good fiend, errr.. friend, Gavin McMahon over at the Make a Powerful Point blog.

It’s cruel, AND unusual.

Conjuring presentation magic for Halloween

Let the magic flow into your public speaking

by Peter Watts

Halloween. Time for stories, and for magic.

Let’s talk of magic, and illusion. This Halloween, as little witches and wizards bearing bags begging candy come up to your door, reflect on the thought that every time we take to the stage as presenters, we too join a world of magic and illusion.

As a presenters we perform magic not with objects, but ideas and information. Take a look at this list of some of the standard categories under which stage magicians file their acts:

  • Production: Making something that wasn’t there before, become suddenly apparent and obvious to all
  • Transformation: Transmuting one thing into another
  • Restoration: Reducing something to it’s atoms, and then restoring it to exactly as it was before
  • Teleportation: Something moves mysteriously from one location to another
  • Escape: From a seemingly inescapable position, the magician succeeds
  • Prediction: What is in the audience’s mind is mysteriously understood.

The categories of magic describe perfectly what presenters do with the base metal of information. Think of your next presentation. Will you be seeking to perform a production conjuring understanding where none existed, or a transformation, turning hesitancy to excitement, or maybe a prediction, where through the magical power of research and planning you demonstrate to an audience how much you understand them; that you know just what is in their minds at this moment.

You are a magician.

This Halloween, as our minds turn to magic, give a thought to some of the great magicians and illusionists. Either the living such as Lyn Dillies, past greats such as Harry Houdini, or even the mythical such as Merlin or Dumbledore. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from them as a presenter?”

Tennessee Williams spoke for audiences worldwide in “A Streetcar Named Desire” when he wrote the words:

“I don’t want realism. I want magic!”

May your Halloween be magical, and your public speaking spellbinding.

Halloween Storytelling: Presenting the Fireside Roots of Public Speaking

by Peter Watts

Through story-telling we express history, we express culture, and we construct the metaphors by which we understand our world. Two festivals lend themselves to the art: Halloween and Christmas. Both should involve spine-tingling tales to bring tribe and family tight together around the fire. It’s public speaking in the raw, and this week I’ve been reminded of this in two ways that I would like to share:

First, my fellow blogger and presenter, John Zimmer (@zimmerjohn) posted this wonderful article via his twitter-feed: “The Psychology of Storytelling” “The Psychology of Storytelling”

Second, I encountered “Beyond the Pale”, a project to consolidate and redistribute the great radio horror stories of the 1940’s and 50’s. You can hear all about “Beyond The Pale” with WBUR’s Tom Ashbrook by following this link. The show is about an hour long, but does include generous clips from Halloween horrors past; Seasonal listening should you find yourself at an audio loose-end while carving the pumpkin.

The tradition of the spoken word and storytelling returns us to public speaking in it’s most native form. What more pleasurable way to practice our skills than by deploying a well chosen tale to raise a scream, this Halloween.

Trick or treat!

%d bloggers like this: