Featured image for One technique that changed my presentations forever

One technique that changed my presentations forever

June 20, 2024

I recently watched Dan Buettner’s Netflix documentary Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zone. Fascinating stuff! Blue zones are areas in the world with the most extended lifespans.

In one episode, Buettner travels to Okinawa, Japan. Here, he discovers a practice called ‘hara hachi bu’. This involves eating until you are 80% full, leaving a feeling of lightness and satisfaction. It’s a secret to longevity.

I believe the hara hachi bu principle applies to presentations, too.

Use hara hachi bu to engage your audience and keep your presentation on time. Note: ‘I wish this presentation went longer’—said no one ever!

When asked to present for 45 minutes, please don’t prepare 45 minutes of content. You will leave your audience feeling bloated and overstuffed. Time speeds up when you present, so 45 minutes of content will take at least 50+ minutes to deliver.

Here’s how you can apply the ‘hara hachi bu’ principle to your presentations: prepare 35 – 40 minutes of content, let it breathe and:

Engage Your Audience
Leave room for interaction. Audience questions and participation add depth to your presentation and make your audience feel valued and included. I always ask, ‘Any questions, comments or observations?’ This range of options can open the room. Often, people don’t have a question but might want to contribute a comment or observation, creating further conversations.

Respect Your Audience
Pause in your presentation. Pausing gives your audience time to digest and consider the information. Pauses help emphasize your points and keep the audience attentive, enhancing their understanding and retention of the content. Pausing shows that you respect their need for time to process the information.

Pausing is hard! I suggest counting to 4 in your head. The other technique I use is repetition. Repetition feels awkward at first, but it works.

Focus on Key Messages
Sometimes, you are so close to your material that everything seems vital. Take a breather, then come back and ask yourself, ‘Does this move my message forward?’. Hone in on your key messages: Imagine you’re making a killer sandwich. You’ve got to cut out the extra stuff, like wilted lettuce or crusts, that no one wants.

Applying hara hachi bu to your presentations will leave your audience satisfied and craving more. Where else in life and work can you apply hara hachi bu?

Story Mastery

Discover stories from leaders like you, who have applied these simple steps and achieved career-defining business results. Storytelling is not a natural gift, but a skill you can learn.

Go Back