Why a Presentation Is Not A Performance

It can feel like you’re able to give a great big (yet, nerve wrecking) performance every time you step on stage. However, you may be compromising something important to delivering a bold and memorable presentation. That component is audience connection.

Let’s break down the difference between a performance and a presentation

A performance is ‘performed’ by an actor on stage. In the role of an actor, you step into character and become someone else. You are bound by a script.

When you deliver a presentation, you are sharing an idea or telling a story you are passionate about. You aren’t becoming someone else. It’s just you, your idea, and/or your story. It can feel vulnerable.

The audience is asked to clap for you during a live performance. Quite different though from when you’re performing than when you’re delivering a speech, isn’t it? An audience member doesn’t need to clap for you unless they feel compelled to and you’ve moved them by your message.

You may remember me talking about the importance of eye contact and how it has the power the move an audience. An actor doesn’t necessarily need to have eye contact to give an outstanding performance. The eye contact a speaker gives should be intentional and part of giving an inspiring presentation/speech so she connects with her audience.

Who do you have in mind when you’re speaking? 

Sometimes when we’re preparing for a presentation and getting nervous because of butterflies, we can forget who a presentation is really for…the audience.

When you come from a mindset of preparing ourselves for a performance, you may lose the authentic connection that we initially wanted to achieve.

I know nerves can get the best of you as you stand up there and you may want to imagine the faces staring back at you really aren’t there.

But if you imagine yourself having a conversation, I know you will engage, move, and inspire your audience.

If you’re ready to make your next presentation memorable, contact me to deliver a workshop for your organization. 


I help build confident voices so they’re heard.

Janice Tomich is the founder of Calculated Presentations, a company dedicated to bringing out speaker’s stories to influence change. Janice coaches professionals, entrepreneurs, TED and TEDx speakers. She is a champion for equal representation by a diverse pool of presenters for all speaking events. Follow Janice on Twitter @janicetomich, on Facebook, on LinkedIn and subscribe for newsletter updates.

Be bold. Get heard. Inspire action.