Presenting Naked


October 24, 2012

*Today’s guest post comes from author Ben Eubanks of Upstart HR

I really like being able to do presentations and speaking engagements, but that activity has only made me more aware of what strong presentations look like (and how bad some of them are).

If you’re here reading this, congratulations, you probably passed the 3rd grade and know how to read. So why is it that so many speakers stand at the podium and read their slides word for word?

In those instances, I’d be happier with receiving a copy of the slides to read myself and using the rest of the time for a more productive activity.

I’ve started using images only in my presentations as cues for me to remember exactly what topic the slide is about. For the audience, it can be a visual link back to the topic that their brain recalls when they think back to the presentation. And then I’m not competing with them for attention as they read the slides behind me.

The exception, maybe?

I will say that there can be instances where naked or image-only won’t work. If you are trying to convey a difficult topic or highly detailed analysis of a problem, it will be tough to do that without text.

The alternative here is if the people really need the data, you could provide it afterward or beforehand and just speak to the trends and high points. But don’t try to load up your slides with massive charts, lots of facts and figures, and expect to keep the audience riveted.

Presenting naked

Next time you have a presentation to make that doesn’t involve high pressure and a lot of data, why not try to present naked? Drop the slides and just talk to the people who need to hear your message. When you have slides up behind you as you speak, they are partially distracted anyway, so it might actually help them to get more out of the discussion, not less.

What’s your presentation style? Ever considered presenting naked?

Ben Eubanks is an HR pro, speaker, and writer. He works as a one-man HR team at Pinnacle Solutions during the day, and at night he writes at upstartHR-an HR blog with a little humor, humility, and how-to. Check it out to learn more about the benefits of team building and other “in the trenches” HR topics.


  • Hi Ben,

    You know I’m a big fan of this approach, and you’re absolutely right. Far too many people deliver painfully boring presentations that I’d be better off just reading on my own.

    If anyone is interested in learning more here, is a great place to start. If you’re lazy like I am, start with the YouTube video in the sidebar. It’s an hour-long presentation on how to, as Ben says, present naked.


  • I love this post — and so agree with it. I am a big fan of “present naked” though had not thought of such a clever term as yours. Well said! Thanks for the reminder of how to make a great presentation. Excellent post!

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