013 : Presenting is NOT facilitating

Someone who delivers a great TED talk, might not be a great project facilitator.

There is a difference between presenting and facilitating.

A great presentation will be rehearsed time and again. It will leave an audience spell bound and energised. During it’s delivery listeners ought to go on a journey of wonder and anticipation. The story arc of the presentation needn’t follow a beginning, middle and end, but everything should tie together to land the point(s) perfectly. Every word should be there for a reason. So too should the metaphors, anecdotes, humour and pauses for thought. It’ll be scripted, yet listenable, perfectly timed, yet natural, brilliantly written and yet when heard, appear effortless, human and conversational. And those famous for it, deserve to be so.

I’m not a presentation skills person (not my thing) so i’ll write no more on what a presentation should be. But we’re all aware of the popular and famous TED talks. Those who nail it in 3 or 10mins are worth watching. Those who don’t – we’ve never seen and for good reason too.

But it’s different facilitating.

Of course there’s a plan. But I’ve never worked a 20min project with a silent audience and an open stage! If you’re genuinely facilitating the creative process, then you’ll not know what the future looks like in fine detail at the end of the day, week or month. You can see a rough shape, people congratulating each other, an intuitive guess on what output will be and the sort of story arc of the project. But that’s it.

The actual words said, by whom and when?


Presentation is delivering something from the inside out. It’s transmitting, broadcasting even. All neatly packed up to go on tour and delivered time and again. A bit like a well rehearsed piece of music.

Facilitation, however is a bit like jazz.

There’s a few notes, but mostly you spend your time playing what isn’t there.