3.2. BE FLEXIBLE

I'll warn you that new software will come out, new technologies will be developed, and audiences will doubtlessly change. They'll laugh at different jokes and find pleasure in emerging trends. If you are reading this book to find a list of current presentation skills that you can ride all the way into retirement, I have some very bad news.

We are not looking at trends; we are looking at principles. What kinds of ideas and approaches have resonated with audiences for centuries? How does the brain learn? How do the ears listen? What makes a person feel and do something? Answering these questions will revolutionize the world by drawing ideas and the people that put them into practice together more tightly than ever before. If we learn the principles, we can easily adapt to the trends. It's the difference between giving a good presentation and becoming a presentation god. Permanence and longevity are the measuring sticks.

Perhaps nothing illustrates principles-based learning better than the Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese text written by Lao Tzu that has influenced Eastern philosophy and religion for centuries. Stemming from the belief that everything in the natural world reflects unchanging, universal truths, the Tao Te Ching asked rulers and common people alike to be observant students of the world around them.

In an obvious, yet poignant, observation, Lao Tzu notices that those objects that are inflexible tend to break: "Gentle and yielding is the principle of ...

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