Stage craft vs content

Barcelona in February is gorgeous – mild, bright, and uplifting. So thank you Gartner for affording me four days in Barcelona last week at the EMEA  Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit, where I played a couple of different roles. First, encouraging people to network via a series of  ‘Ideas Exchanges’, a new concept which really took off. Plus, as a stage craft coach, helping Gartner’s  BI gurus polish up their big keynote presentation to the conference.

And here’s what I concluded after two days of  presentations prep work with the delightful Gartner guys. That it’s the content that counts as much – if not more – than the star dust. (Though they may not agree with me.) We ended up spending the whole of the  first day putting  stage craft on hold. What do I mean by that? The breathing exercises, body work, gestures, blocking – all the actorly stuff – was put on hold. Instead we dived deep into the content.  Why are we saying this? Does it make sense? Is it convincing? How do we make a better case? Isn’t that graph simply boring, let’s ditch it…and so on.

All of which left just a breathless final day to sprinkle some performance ‘star dust’ over my three presenters. I say ‘my’ because by the end of two days it felt like James, Ian and Ted were my children, about to appear in the school play. And the funny thing is that while watching them from the back of Barcelona’s cavernous Palacio de Congresos, I felt as proud of them as if they were my own kids. So thank you guys for keeping a straight face while singing your scales during warm-up. It was worth it.

But I digress. Here’s the thing, when prepping for a big presentation where do you put the emphasis – on content or stage craft?