be present

Thank you all for the positive responses! They mean a lot. I do my best to satisfy your curiosity. But please, don't hesitate to let me know about your opinion, ask questions, suggest your favourite topics related to presentation design: I'm all ears, and I'd like to build this blog for, and with you.

Today's post is still introductory, but we are heading to presentations, I promise.

I love languages. I love how complex they are, and I love how well one can play with them. Wordplay is something I do all the time in my mind, and I love those moments when I realize a connection between different words, or simply realize what their roots could be. The word "Present" is one of my favourites. It's not a fancy one. But in its simplicity there lies its greatness.

I've met Eckhart Tolle's teachings about six years ago. I think many of you are familiar with his book "The Power of Now". When I first heard about it, I thought I knew everything about this simple thing ("now" that is), and I didn't think I needed to read the book. A few years later, when I actually read it, it hit me hard. Not because I was totally wrong: I did really know a lot of things about being present. But this book brought me awareness of it. And that's a key to many things, but for being present it's even more inevitable.

This was the point, when I started to think about the meaning of the word "present". I knew it meant at least four seemingly different things: 1) "current moment" 2) "to be here and now" 3) "gift" 4) "introduce something". I was curious to see if all of these meanings had something in common, and I was right: good old Latin language showed me its greatness again, along with the amazing history of English language. In an on-line etymology dictionary I found that the root of these words is præsens, and according to wiktionary it means "present", "existing", "prompt". Also there I found that this word is the present participle form of præsum. So I looked it up too. Præsum means "I am before something", "I preside or rule over", "I lead, take the lead" or "I command". I found it really interesting, so I went forward. Præsum is created from præ- and sumPræ means two things: "before/in front of" and "in charge". And for me this last expression says it all. To be present exactly means to be in charge. You are in charge of your own life and awareness.

And also: when you are presenting something, you have to be in charge in front of your audience. That's how you bring awareness to something. That's how you bring them in this present moment, where they are not thinking about the past or the future. That's where your presentation becomes successful. In other words: that's when they look up from their phones, and become engaged with what you are telling them. With words, or with your slides: it doesn't matter. The most important thing is to get the message through. You give a present to them: the gift of being present for a short period of time. Even if they don't think about it consciously, they will feel refreshed and motivated, because being in the current moment is an uplifting experience. That's why they will remember your message, and that's why it's not important to be an extroverted and talkative person to give brilliant presentations. This is something I learned throughout the years. This is something I'd like to explore more here, and this is something I'd like to teach you.

Languages are miraculous. You can find so many things when you're digging deeper for an underlying content.

(And for your amusement – if you share my enthusiasm when it comes to etymology – here's a nice and interesting article about the word "gift".)