Pink milk and fancifully shaped sandwiches – the perfect special lunch prepared by the perfect Mom for two little sisters. The only problem was, I wouldn’t drink the milk. It didn’t look right. “But Janet,” my mom persisted, “it’s only food coloring. It doesn’t change the flavor at all”. To prove Mom’s point, my little sister polished off her glass proclaiming it absolutely delicious and tasting exactly like milk. But nothing would budge my resolve. Pink milk – the presentation just threw me and I couldn’t get past my initial aversion.
The power of presentation! Great chefs know this as they spend as much effort making their food look as delicious as it tastes. Image consultants capitalize on this too helping their clients look their best. According to image expert Janice Hurley, “People meeting you for the first time decide in less than a tenth of a second how confident you are, how approachable, your level of education, your social economic status and how attractive you are – all within the blink of an eye.” OMG – less than a tenth of a second! Really?
Studies repeatedly conclude that we human beings typically judge people within seconds of meeting them. Unfair but true. Sometimes we get judged, before we even have the opportunity to meet face-to-face, by a resume, or a phone call, or an email. How often do we prematurely shun something or someone based on the presentation? The power of presentation is enormous and unavoidable.
Nowhere is this process of presentation more evident, for me, than with my practice of Ikebana, the art of Japanese floral design. Ikebana highlights the distinct beauty of each individual element of a floral arrangement, be it a branch, a leaf or a blossom. Hence you will see Ikebana artists (myself included) thoughtfully pondering the arch of a twig or the curve of a petal to determine that flower’s best side, that branch’s best bend, the best way to present each element. Indeed, many times upon critique, the instructor (the sensei) will adjust just one element, ever so slightly, which now totally makes the presentation aesthetically work. It’s that AH moment.
This is the power of presentation. It is dressing your best for who you are and what you want to achieve for any given activity. In other words, groom to bloom. It is revising that resume to make your best assets shine clearly right from the start. It is cleaning up and editing sloppy emails to best present the message you want to project.
We’d like to think that we all have important qualities that others find valuable. As in nature, there is value, function, and beauty in all of nature’s elements, be it the weirdly bent twig or the oddly shaped flower stem. These are the odd elements of nature that often get missed by ordinary inspection. (Indeed, in the commercial retail floral industry, they are often considered inferior/seconds.) But, with a careful Ikebana eye these seemingly inferior elements, with proper presentation, become works of art. Similarly, your personable and professional attributes can often be overlooked until you pay attention to your presentation – blooming the best of yourself. People are overlooked all the time, for job opportunities, promotions, acceptance to educational institutions, social and professional groups, dating opportunities, because of poor presentation. It’s not logical or fair, this almost instant judgement, but it seems to be the way we’re wired. So it is with the power of presentation. It’s that important.
As with all of nature, you have incredible and valuable attributes to offer the world. And it will be a shame if your ideas and talent are not recognized, appreciated, and put to good use, from the lack of your best presentation. Your ideas and you deserve your best presentation, your best blooming to become a work of art!
Jon Morrow said, “Your ideas are counting on you.”
Give them the benefit of your best presentation.
Make them your best blooming.
But be your BEST self