You’re Not Luke Skywalker, You’re Yoda (How to Give Better Presentations)

If you give presentations and want to do so more effectively, this post is for you. It doesn’t matter if your talks are in front of a 3 person office staff, a group of volunteers or a large keynote reaching thousands of attendees… the principles herein still apply.

Effective presentations are ultimately about communicating ideas clearly, in a way that connects with your audience so that they can retain it, recall it, be moved by it and share it.

Now this is all assuming that you are giving presentations that matter and that you are trying to communicate for change versus merely entertain.

I recently watched a great Tedx East presentation on this topic from Nancy Duarte, the author of slide:ology and Resonate. In her talk, titled “You Have the Power to Change the World,” Nancy states a compelling case for effective presenting and provides a number of specifics that might just reshape your perspective. You can watch the full 18 minute talk here or via the embeded video below.

Beyond the extremely useful architecture of an effective story that Nancy outlines in her presentation, I was also impacted by two other points she made.

The Idea

1. The most powerful device known to man is the IDEA.

2. But ideas are powerless if you don’t properly communicate them.

3. Ideas must be spread in order to be effective. If they don’t spread, they die.

Luke Skywalker vs Yoda

A major component of effective presenting is knowing your role, and the role of your audience.

But a lot of us have it backwards.

To be an effective presenter, you must understand that you are not Luke Skywalker. You aren’t the hero sent to save your audience. Even though you are on the stage with a spotlight, it’s not about you.

You are Yoda. You are the mentor who helps move the hero (the audience) from one thing into something else. Your idea is what helps shape them, direct them and move them from where they are to where they need to go. But it won’t if you don’t communicate it effectively.

I personally see this all the time. Presenters who think they are focusing on their idea and how the audience interacts with it but in reality they are focusing too much on themselves.

How did I look?

Were my jokes funny?

Did I entertain them?

Those are just a few of the questions I commonly hear. But, if you really care about the idea and it resonating with someone in order to make a difference then your questions must change. Instead of questions about you… your questions need to be about them and the idea you are attempting to share.

Did I connect?

Did they understand it clearly?

Did it make sense in a way that they can digest, recall and share?

Did I deliver the idea in a way that elicited some sort of response?

Becoming an effective presenter is not easy.

It takes a lot of work, intentional effort and desire but if your idea is worth it… then so is the way you present it.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Good post, thanks for the thoughts! I particularly like the idea that "I'm not the hero" my hearers are. That's a key idea and seriously worth-while to discuss.

    We've all experienced someone being the hero of their own stories/world and it wreaks of unattractive narcissism. (is narcissism ever attractive?)

    The platform opportunity does not mean you're the hero…its an opportunity to share life, ideas, wisdom, truth and learn from a different seat. If the end you're after in communicating is elevating your position, you've connected with a very shallow, poorly understood picture of influence.

    Sorry to soap box, not sure if that's the direction you were ultimately headed with this post…just got me thinking. (and praying for grace that I'm not "that guy")

  • "You're not Luke Skywalker. You're Yoda." – I love that!

    Great insight on this post. Keeping the focus on the idea and the audience instead of on ourselves is so key!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Some great points! A fundamental shift from (you) to (them) is a key component of a great presentation. I think this is something that is usually learned with experience, but if we can ingrain this wisdom into the minds of younger presenters, all the more better!

    With Love and Gratitude,