A New Way to Look at Your Presentations

I have worked in the presentation and public speaking industry for over 15 years now and people often ask me what makes a great presentation. My response is typical:

"You need to be a great storyteller or make sure you keep your message simple."

"Don't forget to practice your talk 7-8 times before you get in front of the room."

"Make sure you have a compelling call-to-action when concluding your talk."

These are solid suggestions and recommendations I still stand by but I actually never thought about simplifying the material with a simple analogy or illustration. Granted, I have systems and blueprints I have created for my company, Ethos3. But, I have yet to create a workable and impactful analogy until today.

Drum roll.

A presentation can best be described as a ship. All parts of the vessel are essential to get you to your destination. I'll explain in more detail below.

The Cargo

What you choose to include in your ship is your content. The updates, data, significant findings - all of it - this is your cargo. Your goal as a presenter is to package this cargo neatly and elegantly so it can safely arrive at its destination.

The Ship

Your cargo is then carried forward and transferred by the ship. It is nestled nicely inside and showcased elegantly by the beauty of the vessel. Perhaps it is an exotic yacht or a behemoth ship like the Titantic. Either way, the goal of the ship is to serve as the beautiful exterior - the housing of the more important cargo.

The Sea

The sea represents how you choose carry your ship and cargo to it's desired location. Ideally, you are going to want to have calm waters with an occasional wave of expression to diversify your pacing. The water needs to be tranquil, steady, and magically powerful.

The Wind

A great narrative will be like the wind at your back. The stories you weave in and out will be like the wind which guides and drives your ship effortlessly. Just as the wind intensifies or provides calmness to the day so will the narrative you choose to embrace.

The Captain

And finally, we have the captain which is you the presenter. You are responsible for navigating the waters ahead. You choose what cargo to keep and what to abandon. You choose which ship to sail. You choose which water channels to take. And, you choose which way to point the ship to catch the wind.


A presentation is just like a ship. If you captain it responsibly, you'll reach your destination and everyone will be glad to welcome you at the dock.

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