Presentation Tip: The Beauty of Ugly

Go Ugly

What’s the key to feeling really comfortable when making a presentation? The Ugly Rehearsal.

Aren’t we the most comfy when we speak from our hearts about something we know? Conversely, aren’t we the most uncomfy when we know we have X-number of slides to cover and someone else has given us our talking points?

The path to real comfort is to conduct an Ugly Rehearsal. Why do we call it “Ugly”? To lower expectations — it’s supposed to be a train wreck! Here’s what to do:

  • Everyone on the team prepares their portion of the presentation.
  • Everyone shows up with bulleted notes written on a piece of paper.

That’s the prep. Here are the five rules of the Ugly Rehearsal:

1. Sit around a table. Everyone gets to sit; no standing.

2. Say what you’re planning to say. Don’t talk about it, “I’m going to talk about the design, and Joe, you’ll cover the logistics.” No! Go through the presentation and actually say your part out loud.

3. Don’t stop. Don’t interrupt each other. Instead, everyone should take notes to use during a discussion after the rehearsal.

4. Time it. Don’t worry about speaking in your allotted time. This rehearsal is for getting everything out on the table, but knowing how long it took will give the team a big-picture sense of where they are time-wise.

5. Here’s the biggie – NO graphics! That’s right – NO PowerPoint or any other graphics for this rehearsal. This rehearsal is all about story.

Follow these rules, and you’ll be amazed at the results! Why is this technique so powerful?

  • Telling your stories without graphics is wildly freeing. Most of us are ruled by our PowerPoints. “What am I supposed to say to this slide?” The Ugly Rehearsal allows you to experience the freedom of telling your story from your heart.
  • Getting people to rehearse is crazy tough. But, once you’ve conducted the Ugly Rehearsal, you’ve done your first practice, gotten the ball rolling and now rehearsing is easier!

I believe that the Ugly Rehearsal is the most transformative step you can take towards improving your preparation process. Try it and let us know how it goes. Go Ugly!

— Carol

Tales from the Field

Tales from the Field

A few weeks after attending a Graceworks’ workshop hosted by SMPS Upstate New York, I had a “big and bold” opportunity to present to a group of my car club peers at a national meeting, which included brass from Audi of America. Each club chapter from around the country was asked to share a story about how and why they became a success.

Most of the PowerPoints contained lots of bullets, and as you may expect, there were common themes among the presentations. After the first two or three, they began to feel repetitive. As I listened, I started rethinking my presentation.

I had followed your advice with my slides. They contained lots of photos and few words, so it was easy for me to adjust my talk on the fly and tailor it to the moment, including things that we had learned and discussed in our meetings on the previous day.

Afterwards, several people complimented me on my presentation and commented that it was “on the mark.” Had I had a rigid, bullet-filled PowerPoint, I wouldn’t have been able to be flexible. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this presentation was somewhat of a life-changing experience for me, and I’ll practice this approach from now on.

David Klock, Partner
Pathfinder Engineers & Architects LLP
Rochester, NY

Got Bigness? Got Boldness? Email us your most outrageous leadership story, your most hilarious presentation tale, your most ridiculous communication anecdote.

If we print your story, you’ll receive $750 towards training or coaching with a Graceworks trainer for you or your firm! Send a story now »