Wu-wei and What’s the Ideal Presentation?

Wu-wei is the quintessence of the Taoist vibe.  Like the Tao it’s also utterly untranslatable 🙂 The usual translation of not-doing doesn’t really cut it.  Many times in life when stuff needed doing I tried the “doing nothing”, “sit on the sofa drinking beer, eating pizza and watching TV” approach and nothing ever did get done 🙁  Perhaps “effortless doing” is nearer … like when you do a near perfect golf swing with no strain and the ball sails off.  Or “being completely natural” … like when grass grows … it “just grows” … no efforting about it.

From David James Lees blog

From David James Lees blog

So what would the equivalent of being “perfectly natural” be when applied to presentations?  I think the answer might surprise you…

Taking both versions of the translation – non-doing and effortless or natural doing – we get to the perfect presentation being…

…no presentation!

You might think I am being frivolous … but other than teasing you towards the volte face I am very serious.  Time and time again I see 50pp (or more!) Powerpoint presentations … the sales conversation rate of which is generally next to zero.  What is natural about showing someone 50pp??  Nothing at all.

I often ask folks and, frankly, I have never had a better answer than “we do it because we do it” or “we do it because one has to do a presentation”.

But the ideal presentation is no presentation.  Literally.

Let’s take a practical example.  With a client a while back we were meeting one of his network in a coffee shop.  He went off to get the coffees and I sat down with this unmet person.  After a mutual introduction I asked her what her biggest headache was in her role … she answered.  “Ah interesting” I said, “as funnily enough that’s exactly the thing that my buddy can sort”.  “Really?” she says – if it is I’ll buy it today.

Well she didn’t buy it that day but in an honest, no pressure, no presentation context a potential client had revealed their headache.  I had put on the table that we could fix it and this was followed up by some more technical explanation of why but embedded in a coffee shop context – no heavy sell just an honest claim in a conversation which moved onto other things and was social.

So after that everything that follows “in the office” is, in essence, just due diligence – helping the client do a  professional job of “kicking the tyres” to check that everything is at it is said.

After all I bet you didn’t “make a presentation” to start the ball rolling with the person who became your spouse/partner…  Chances are one of you just asked a simple question about having coffee or lunch.  Natural.  No Powerpoints required.

So next time you find yourself, bored, stuck or just rolling your eyes at another boring presentation ask yourself whether with the next client there isn’t a way to make an “in principle”, simple sale in a natural wayYou may be very surprised.


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