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Big Presentations in Small Rooms

helping ordinary people communicate with extraordinary effectiveness

Adapt Presentations: 3 Big Options

If you can adapt presentations, you will save time and have better messages.

Let’s review. You have a presentation. You have an audience. And you are determined to connect the audience to the content in ways that lead them toward the goal.

You understand this is a unique situation.


Is that the only situation in which you will share that content (or similar content)?

What happens if the audience changes?

Do you have to start over?

Probably not. This is good news. You can adapt presentations!

And you will learn things from previous experiences that will improve future ones.

Think back half a lifetime ago.

Now consider this question.

Have your behaviors changed?


Perhaps you matured. You have learned from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. You have discovered the relational and professional consequences of those mistakes. And you adapted.

Perhaps your situation changed. You went from a casual work environment to a more professional one. Or maybe the other way around. Maybe you went from a micromanaging boss to a peer-accountability workplace. Perhaps you moved into a position of increased responsibility or leadership. And you adapted.

Perhaps you have developed new skills that result in new ways of doing things. You read a great book (like Big Presentations in Small Rooms), and you learned new ways to reach your goals. As you began implementing that knowledge, you reaped the benefits. You adapted!

Adaptation is a gift.  

When delivering Big Presentations in Small rooms, there are many things you can adapt. Here are three to consider: Facial Expressions, Tone, and Words.

Adapt Presentations with Facial Expressions

Here is an assignment that you can accomplish in real-time as you read.

Form the following facial expressions.


Raise your eyebrows


Lower your eyebrows

You probably did the first two simultaneously—and looked happy.

You probably did the second two simultaneously—and looked unhappy.

Even though you might not be feeling either emotion, you were able to create the expressions.

You adapted. And you might have felt a little of that emotion forming as you moved the muscles. Fascinating!

And there are many other expressions that you can form on demand.

When presenting, be observant and wise. Adjust your face to provide what is needed in that situation. Sometimes it won’t be easy because what is required and what comes naturally are not the same. You might need to smile when you want to frown. You might want to frown when you really need to smile.

If you have kids, you have been in this situation. I remember providing accountability for a mean-spirited prank that one sibling pulled on another. It was wrong. And it was hilarious! It was difficult for me to form a frown as I talked to the culprit.

If you have ever lost a promotion to a respected coworker, you have been in this situation. You want to frown, but you need to smile. It is right, but it is not easy.

I have lead meetings where an employee unintentionally said something had a double-meaning—one of which was extremely inappropriate but hilarious. And I had to keep a neutral face and quickly move on before the other people in the room started laughing.

Your expressions carry information. You can adapt your face to carry the message that best leads people toward the goal.

Adapt Presentations with Facial Expressions-like this smile.
Adapt Presentations with Facial Expressions-like this smile. Photo by Pam Sharpe on Unsplash

Adapt Presentations with Tone

Imagine you are in a public gathering space. You sit quietly and listen. You focus on a conversation where you can hear the tone without being able to decipher the words. Could you identify the tone of the interaction? Is it positive? Negative? Stressful? Intimate? Friendly? Professional?

A few years ago, I was working in a crowded coffee shop. Two people sat nearby. They were speaking an unfamiliar language. I tuned them out and continued to work until… the tone changed. Other people noticed too. We were all trying to pay attention without appearing to pay attention. Suddenly one of them grabbed a small box and ran out the door, with the other one following close behind. Later we learned that it was an argument over price followed by attempted theft. Thankfully, the victim recovered his product. It was interesting how tone alone communicated that something was wrong.

When delivering big presentations in small rooms, your tone carries information. Even with people who cannot decipher the words you speak. You can adapt your tone to carry the message that best leads people toward the goal.

Adapt Presentations by Adapting Tone
Adapt Presentations by Adapting Tone. Photo by Christina on Unsplash

Adapt Presentations with Words

And, of course, our words transmit content. And you can adapt them to meet the needs of the situation.

One of my favorite software applications is called Grammarly. I gladly pay for a subscription because it provides proofing and feedback for my compositions. I appreciate the way I can choose from various types of audiences, formality levels, and domains.

The software guides me in ways that equip me to create customized content. The core content can be the same while the approach, the words, are tailored to reach a specific audience.

One of my favorite projects over the past decade is to take a well-made executive book briefing and tailor a set of discussion questions for various levels of an organization.

Even though they are all seeing the same core content (the book briefing), each organizational level asks different questions—questions that apply best to their responsibilities and concerns.

The words are customized to meet the needs of the audience.

Imagine you can adapt presentations by adapting words.  Photo by Jeremy Beck on Unsplash
Imagine you can adapt presentations by adapting words. Photo by Jeremy Beck on Unsplash

You Can Adapt Presentations

It is freeing to know that you have the power to adapt. You are not locked into a specific way of presenting. In most situations, you are not locked into specific wording. You have the freedom to adapt. So use it wisely. Apply self-disciple to provide what is best for the audience.

Customize your facial expressions, your tone, and your words so that they work together to create a set of signposts faithfully guiding the audience toward the goal.

Want to know more? Keep reading the blog!

Want to know even more? Order Big Presentations in Small Rooms!


Can you recall a time when it was difficult to provide an appropriate facial expression?

Do you have a memory of tone-eavesdropping?

What is an example from your experience of adapting words to various audiences?

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