Slam poetry, performance poetry, or spoken word is a type of live performance that uses poetic language and conventions in which the performer is also the writer. Performing your own creative writing is a very similar practice to writing your own speech and presenting because unlike other forms of performance, the actor is not the creator of the text.

Practice performing with your own words and see how poetry can help your corporate presentations.

In performance theory, Richard Schechner proposed that performing occurs in everyday life. He suggested that certain jobs and professions enact specific character traits, behaviour patterns, and tones of voice have been stylised into stereotypical representations. Think about the perceptions we have about the way people should act based on their profession. We expect our clergymen to be dignified, our court judges solemn and honest, and our reporters and journalists dedicated and trustworthy. Our jobs and professions adhere to customs and traditions which have evolved into modes of performance. In this case, your ability to give presentations is a performance of your profession. So, being able to speak or perform with confidence demonstrates that you are qualified to be in a leadership role.

What is performance or spoken word poetry? Olivia Gatwood’s TED talk demonstrates the intersection between poetry, performance, and everyday narratives.

“the more specific your story, the more universal it becomes.”

When presenting, we hear the term “storytelling” used to convey a kind of presentation method. The idea of storytelling, quite broadly, can be as simple as focusing on connection and channelling the emotive response of the experience itself. And while you might think, how can my data be emotional or experiential?  Well, the truth is, it might not be. But if you can find a way to make it relatable to your audience, that’s where you’ll be more likely to engage and connect with them.

What makes slam poetry a creative crutch for presenters is that memorisation is key. Performers often remember their lines and rehearse rigorously to focus on connecting with the audience. No one wants someone to read off slides or palm cards. While it’ll be difficult to memorise a 20-minute presentation, it could be worthwhile to at least to script and memorise an introduction and conclusion. The first and last lines will be remembered by your audience the most. Presenting is performance so explore your inner artiste by simply doing the following:

1. A Strong Opening.

Most presentations begin with, “great being here” or something generic like “hey, how ya goin.’ ” Which, frankly, very rarely grabs the audience’s attention. People make a judgement about you in the first 5 seconds of you walking on stage. Carefully choosing words for your introduction helps you minimise the nerves and start your presentation without any dramas.

2. A Call to Action.

Saying “thanks for coming” is pretty much a given – more likely than not, they had to be there. Instead, try ending with a call to action, a joke, or a short summary.

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