Many people ask me, ‘To Perform or Present, What’s the Difference?
I usually answer, (annoyingly) with a question. ‘What do you do? Present or perform? What do you like to see, presentations or performances?’
And in many ways, it is a personal choice. However, if you peel away the layers and re-search again, usually something fresh appears!
The dictionaries explain that to present is to give an award formally or ceremonially. To perform is to do an action or a piece of work. So, to present is to host or introduce, compere or emcee. Then, to perform is to begin and carry through to completion an action.
Now, let’s add some real-life colour and juice up that dry mix. From my point of view, it starts with a thought or an idea. Then, it moves to the written form, to be shaped and sculpted, edited and analysed. The next step is to rehearse or practise. As somebody said:
– Practise like you’ve never won. Perform like you’ve never lost – Anon.
During this transformation from written to spoken word, a colloquial magic happens. Life enters your vocabulary.
Verve slips into your verbs. Sparkle and zing into your nouns. This is the section where your message has the opportunity to impact, motivate and empower your listener. (That could be one person, like your boss, or a paying audience of hundreds) The final step is to stand in front of your public and share your words.
I believe that every time we write, rehearse and step up and speak out.….we are performing.
That performance could be sad or comic, heartfelt or passionate, enlightening or educational…but it is, at it’s core, a performance. We want it to be engaging and authentic. We want to empower and excel, but these are all the adjectives that describe a performance.
There are people that associate presentations with power point, with Prezi, these tend to be more formal, more corporate or academic…but please do not quote me on that…it is just my observation!
There is an area of overlap, where presenting and performing serve each other. Creating an interlace between presenting and performing requires you to understand and know your audience, to use a clear language style and even to consider cultural differences.
A surgeon performs an operation. A person presents a TV show or an awards ceremony and, a lawyer presents a case. This is where a Fusion of styles enters….stage right, from behind the curtain with vitality.
-An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises – Mae West
What is key to your performance or presentation is that you engage with your audience. If you enlighten and energise …you gain more kudos! If you then empower and excel…your listeners will admire you and then, do you really care what they call your offering?
Step Up & Stand Out encourages excellence and never forgets a touch of humour.
I’m on performance enhancing drugs, so I may cause drowsiness. – Jay London –
Very interesting, Georgia. Having taught English for 17+ years, presenting and performing were part of my ‘shtick’. I had to present information to my pupils but if I didn’t perform, then I couldn’t really engage them. From my experience, the two work hand in hand. I loved to read aloud to them (teenagers) and in doing so, I was performing. I was recently on TV – reading a poem for a new book, ‘A South Downs Alphabet’. A friend of my daughter’s looked at the clip and asked her if I always spoke like that. To him, it was affected – but if you teach a subject like English lit, you devise a way of speaking that will stimulate/engage your audience. Verdad?
Yes, it often comes down to a personal point of view. If you like drama and passion to shine through, you call it a performance. If you are more reserved you may prefer to present. Thanks Mari.
How inspiring, Georgia
Probably we should learn to perform just as if we were theater actors…
I remember Mar, you have that natural passion in your body language which made your speech so inspiring …for me! Thanks for your words.
I agree to perform is to begin and carry through to completion an action.
This blog definitely on the best way to became a performance like a stunning speech.
So many engaging words of wisdom and advice to “make it big,” and make speaking/acting seem so effortless. I always admire the seemingly fearless actors/orators who make it all look so easy, when you analyse just how much work goes into the preparation and delivery of their performance.
Thanks Joy! You have a unique style when you speak…I think you are a secret performer!
This made me think Georgia! So what do I do, and what have I done in the past? It reminded me of different situations, and for me the group size has sometimes led to a performance as I’ve thought more in advance about how to engage many people, some who I knew would be too far away to make eye contact with. Also, in past corporate roles I’ve had to deliver news which has not always been positive, but I’ve had to find a way to deliver it with feeling but some what tempered to what I was actually feeling.
These days, running my own business, I’m more able to be me, but I still may have to project my voice more than in a regular conversation, and be aware of my use of space if on a large stage so does that make it a performance? It’s certainly thought provoking. Thanks for posting.
Thanks Carol, it is hot topic and as you say, to engage you sometimes have to appear “bigger” in order to be seen. I like the idea of a Fusion of styles and not getting too caught up with labels. 🙂
Great post, as usual! I think most of life is some kind of performance. I definitely prefer perform!
Yes, I think performance has a more creative edge. Look forward to your next “performance “!
Georgia another “great subject” for debate and insight into “semantics”!! I fully agree with you and personally believe that the 2 words especially in the context of “public speaking” are undoubtedly intertwined (present = deliver…… and perform = to begin and carry through to completion).
Give us more, please!!!