Some people make a great deal out of two words — ‘speech’ and ‘presentation’.  I don’t give speeches, they may say, only presentations.  A speech is a big deal.  A presentation is what I do in front of my team, or the Board, or some sales prospects.

OK, if that distinction helps you feel less nervous for that thing that you have to give next Wednesday, fair enough.  But it’s a false disctinction.

The essential principles of speech-giving and presentation-giving are the same.  Maybe, in common parlance, speeches are more formal, or to larger audiences, or more important, than presentations.  But each is an opportunity to change the world.  Each involves putting yourself in front of some people and holding forth.  Each should be taken very seriously.

There may be a further implication in some business circles that a presentation involves Power Point, and a speech, especially a keynote speech, typically will not.  But that’s to make a distinction where there is none.  Most people use Power Point badly, as a crutch, or speaker notes, not as illustrations to help the audience get a few key points of the talk.  Using Power Point badly will mar both speeches and presentations. 

So don’t hide behind Power Point, and don’t hide behind the terminology.  A presentation is a speech, and worth taking seriously.  Prepare it thoughtfully, rehearse it fully, and give it with passion. The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.   

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