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David Windle

Opposite Leg Ltd


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Presenting Tips from the Tao te Ching


Presenting Tips from the Tao Te Ching

What, you may wonder, can Lao-tzu’s ancient poetic masterpiece tell modern humanity about presenting, public speaking and performing?

Modern presenting is cluttered with business speak about targets, key messages, outcomes and rules for success.  All of which have place and purpose; none of which are as fundamental as they insist.


People Central

As with any performance form, a presentation, and its delivery, is far more subtle and interesting than a simplistic business recipe.  After all, at the heart of a presentation is a person – and people are brilliant, unpredictable and ultimately the only reason to be interested in a presentation.

The Tao Te Ching talks directly to the person at the centre of the performance offering profound insight as to how to make connection where it’s needed most.  (I wonder if Lao-tzu was good with PowerPoint too?)


Practical Presentation Pointers from a Mystical Monk


“There is no greater illusion than fear,

No greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself.”

When it comes to presenting this is true (not so sure about warfare!).  Simply, if you put a protective shield around yourself by being too scripted, using too many slides or holding too much physical tension, your audience cannot connect with you.   A little vulnerability goes a long way.


“The hard and stiff will be broken,

The soft and supple will prevail.

You have to be able to go with the flow in performance.  Rigidly sticking to your plan when the audience is desperate to open up discussion will cut you off from the crowd and prevent your presentation from taking flight.  Note ‘supple’ not ‘loose’ – suppleness is toned and lithe, with a little bit of give.

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David Windle


Read more from David Windle

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