Anita Roddick and Her Best Presentation Ever


by Glenn Leibowitz | via Linkedin |

In the mid-1990s, when I was attending business school, Body Shop Founder Anita Roddick visited our campus to deliver a presentation about entrepreneurship. I confess I can’t remember the content of her speech. But I’ll never forget the way she presented it.

On each slide of her presentation, projected onto a large screen on stage, was just one very large, capitalized word that stretched across the full width of the screen.

Just. One. Word.

No complicated graphs showing sales figures or market share. No cheesy clip art. Not even any photos. Just one word with the one message she wanted to share at that one moment in time.

She was a riveting enough speaker to not have needed slides at all. Just to be in the presence of this dynamic, successful entrepreneur who was out to change the world was enough inspiration for me. For me, she was the message.

Yet her ultra-minimalistic, Zen-like presentation format actually enhanced the impact of her delivery. The utter lack of clutter on the screen allowed me to focus on what she had to say. More importantly, it allowed me to focus more on her.

I’ve seen a lot of presentations since then. Some have been memorable and impactful in their own ways. Many haven’t. It’s telling, isn’t it, that nearly twenty years later, I can still recall her presentation as if I had watched it yesterday. Yet, I can barely remember 99% of the hundreds of other presentations I’ve sat through during that time.

While I have never tried to emulate wholesale the presentation that I saw Anita Roddick deliver that day, I have tried to shamelessly steal some of its essence and inject it into my own presentations: Full-screen photos with a simple headline in large font. Large, easy-to-read numbers. No bars, pies, or lines.

For most of us, most of the time, we’ll still need to show the details and the numbers. Business is complex. Life even more so. Our presentations will naturally need to reflect that complexity. But if we can just try to think of ways to get our message across just a little more simply, more clearly, and with more impact, imagine what effect that would have on your audience.

Like the effect Anita Roddick had on me that day.


Thanks so much for reading. Please take a look at my other posts on LinkedIn. And I hope to connect with you here, or on Twitter: @GlennLeibowitz

 – Digital marketing, publishing and PR professional based in Greater China for 2 decades

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