Sesame Street & the Manamana of a good presentation!

What do a Sesame Street song-classic, a good presentation and impro theatre have in common? (deutsche Fassung)

They’re fun and they only work if you feel like doing it, if you’re completely present and if they’re based on interaction. “We could sing a good song if we have one more person to sing!” – if you replace “song” and “singing” by “presentation” and “presenting” then you can learn how to do a good presentation by watching the singer (is he meant to a Joe Cocker twin?) in the following Sesame Street classic:


So here’s a person/puppet who does something happily, eagerly, putting his heart into it. You might remember boring presentations, however, in which the presenter was not at all happy, nor was he eager and neither did he put any heart in what he said. In this song the lead singer’s “Manamana” would be boring and incomplete without the “bah-bee-bee-bee-bee” of the female singers! So, if you want your audience to participate in the presentation, to have them stay “tuned”, to make them “join in”: What interactions and questions can you plan that will achieve such an effect? Here, in Sesame Street, it’s the equilibrium of “Manamana” and “bah-bee-bee-bee-bee”. But I’m afraid we don’t see many presentations in which the “speaker” allows 50% of his time for interaction with – that is participation of – his audience. And that’s a pity. The singer in this video is extremely present at times but knows how to stand back, too.

The aspects I just mentioned – fun, putting heart into something, interacting, being present – are also the basis for successful impro theatre. Therefore, it makes sense (and admittedly is fun!) to use games (or rather: excercises) from impro to enrich your performance as a presenter or speaker. You may read about some examples in this blog in future.