A Powerful Presentation Tip from the Late Bruce Lee

bruce lee

“Don’t think. Feel. It is like a finger pointing out to the Moon, don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”  Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was arguably the greatest martial artist in history.

Watch one of my favourite scene again last night  in ‘Enter the Dragon‘ got me thinking about public speaking.

The scene involved Bruce Lee meeting a young student walking around the temple where he asks the boy to kick him. After a moment of apprehension, the boy kicks him and of course Bruce wasn’t very impressed.

He turned to the student and said, “What was that, an exhibition? You need emotional content.”

The emotional content he was referring to was his way of saying that you have to put feeling into your actions if you are to achieve your goal.

That may sound as simple as it does obvious but when it comes to presenting and public speaking how often do you attend forums where it feels to you as though the speaker:

That’s goo advice for public speaking and presenting too

Whether it’s a regular monthly review, a project or status update, or a management meeting, a presentation needs emotional content.

How do you want your audience to feel

Neuroscience has been telling us for some time that most of our decision making isn’t logical, it’s emotional.

You can pile on the data, bulletproof facts and use every ounce of logic and reason you have to support your message.

Without some degree of emotional content, it’s unlikely that your audience will connect with your message.

Here are a few speaking tips I think the late Bruce Lee may agree with:

Start with the end in mind

Don’t make the mistake of launching straight into the data at the expense of making your audience feel something at the start.

–   Find out how your audience feel about the topic, before you present your idea to them.

–   If the business is making a mistake and you know how to fix it, say it.

–  Have the courage to ask for your audience’s help if that’s what you need.

–  If you can save or make them money, tell them straight away and tell them how much.

– If there’s a better way tell them what it is.

Then give them the facts.

Do something unexpected

Blank the screen

Research suggests that the human mind is conditioned to wander a great deal of the time.

This isn’t very helpful if you are presenting.

It’s in your interests as well as your audiences to do something unexpected every now and then.

One of my personal favourites is blanking out the screen by hitting the ‘b’ key on the key board and pausing for a few moments.

After a short pause, I will then say ,‘Let’s leave the slides alone for a moment; I’d really like to know what you think and feel about what I’ve shared so far’.

Let them speak

Sometimes I will ask them to turn to the person sitting next to them and explore together a point I have just made.

Help them to imagine

I’ll often ask them to close their eyes for 30 seconds to imagine something I’ve just said.

Pass it around

I love using props whenever I can.

Sometimes when I’m talking about the way I believe our minds work I pass round a rubber model of the brain I have. It’s not often we get to hold a brain in our hands and are asked to think about the way we think.

Print it out

To help our executive team feel the pain some of our customers were feeling, in a presentation to the senior management team I once littered the board room table with a plethora of customer complaints I had printed out.

After just a few minutes reading for themselves how badly we were letting our customers down they were ready to hear what I had to say.

Have a ball

On one occasion when I was presenting to a team of 600 people I was leading, I needed them to share my feeling for the depth of a problem we were experiencing.

I personally handed out 600 stress balls to each of them and then told them why.

The business had developed a crippling ‘yes but’ culture.

Each stress ball had the words ‘yes but’ printed on one side with a red cross through it.

On the other side of the ball I had printed the words ‘YES AND’.

I asked the team to carry their balls around with them at work with the following request:

Each time you hear anyone in this business use the words ‘yes but’, regardless of their position, I want you to take your ball out of your pocket and throw it at the ‘yes butter’.

Let it snow

At the start of a very important management meeting where I really needed to get the teams attention I started by playing Christmas songs in the middle of summer.

Everyone thought I was crazy, but it certainly got their attention. It changed the mood of the meeting before I presented the idea I needed them to focus on.

Challenge them

Another favourite of mine is holding a short pub quiz; without the alcohol of course.

I ask my audience to answer three questions I am confident no one will know the answer to. I give the person who gets closest to the correct answers a copy of my book, ‘Hamster to Harmony’.

You don’t have to be an author or give them a book of course it could be anything.

Chocolates, a bottle of wine or if you are really generous and they work for you, how the afternoon off?

Every time you are called on to present to any audience you can be certain that you will be competing against a whole host of distractions.

They may be under pressure with a deadline or target, stressed from a difficult journey to get there, preoccupied with challenges at home or at work.

Your job is to craft and deliver a presentation which will ensure they don’t miss all the ‘heavenly glory’ you have to offer.

Take a couple of minutes to watch the brilliant Bruce Lee scene here:

If you need a little help with your public speaking and presentation skills:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

 Image: Courtesy of flickr.com



Share this article

Leave a comment

Download our Free Guide

Sign up for our newsletter and download your free guide to authentic public speaking.

When you sign up, you’ll get a link to our free guide, plus helpful public speaking articles posted on our site. You can unsubscribe at any time.