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Dancing in the Line of Fire

Dancing in the Line of Fire

By Piero Vitelli
Written and recorded by Piero Vitelli, a freelance transferable skills trainer with over twenty-five years’ experience, these podcasts are a series of narratives that explore aspects of presentation delivery. Drawn from the worlds of theatre, production, corporate events and personal development, each episode focuses on a particular aspect of performance that, if considered, evaluated and acted upon, can yield positive results for those who want their presentations to be more distinct, memorable and effective.
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Bringing the curtain down on this series, the final episode explores Authenticity - the seemingly magical quality that separates the unique from the everyday and, when combined with Confidence and Presence, distinguishes the magnetic from the ordinary.
November 18, 2021
The penultimate episode in this series explores something called status, which is rarely discussed in the context of giving presentations. A study with its roots in improvisational theatre, it is one of the ways in which a presenter can flex the relationship they have with their audience so as to better lead, follow and respond to them.
November 11, 2021
If doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, then those presenters who avoid seeking feedback on their performances might struggle to develop their style. But those that welcome it will still need to distinguish between the good, the bad and the ugly in order to derive value from it.
November 04, 2021
Presenting Online
Since early 2020 many of us have been catapulted into presenting online, and have taught ourselves how to use remote conferencing software. This new format requires us to support our presentation delivery with some of the technical skills required for video production. This episode explores some of the challenges that come with this relatively new format, and celebrates some of the opportunities that it offers.
October 28, 2021
Visual Aids
Often considered as the presentation itself, this episode explores the relationship between a presenter and their visual aids.
October 21, 2021
The Point of No Return
No matter how much you prepare and rehearse a presentation, there comes a point when you have to stop walking towards the Line of Fire and start dancing in it. This episode explores the void into which a presenter steps in the full knowledge that it is the audience that is the best judge of a presentation's impact.
October 14, 2021
The Audience
Preparing and rehearsing a presentation is essential, but how can we prepare for our audience? How can we know what they will be like? How can we know what mood they'll be in? Do we even know what they want or expect from us? This episode discusses preparing for the unknown of an audience.
October 07, 2021
Along with confidence, presence seems to be something that presenters want and audiences expect. This episode explores what it might be and how we might develop it so as to perform with presence.
September 30, 2021
Being Wrong
Putting ourselves in front of an audience ranks as one of the most frightening things we could do, as it exposes us to the very real possibility of humiliation and rejection by our audience. Naturally we try our best to minimise the chance of making any mistakes, but this only adds to the pressure of the situation. This episode considers our likely response to making mistakes, explores what might be at its root and suggests how making some decisions about what we can control and influence might offer us a different perspective on our concerns.
September 23, 2021
Confidence. What is it? Why do we want it? How do we get it? Where does it come from? Why does everyone else always seems to have more of it than we do? In this episode, I offer a personal perspective on the topic of Confidence, which you can add to everything that you've already discovered about it yourself. 
September 16, 2021
A Vocal Warmup
The first part of this episode explores the role of the vocal warm up as a part of the preparation to give a presentation. Why take the time to do it? How does it help? The second part guides you through a short set of exercises which you could expand on in order to create your own vocal preparation to help you get ready to present.
September 09, 2021
A Physical Warmup
The first part of this episode explores the role of the physical warm up as a part of the preparation to give a presentation. Why take the time to do it? How does it help? The second part guides you through a short set of exercises which you could expand on in order to create your own warm up to help you get ready to present.
September 02, 2021
Shaking hands, going red in the face, wobbly voice and blank mind. The very real and debilitating sensation of feeling nervous before, during and immediately after giving a presentation. If we could just do something about them; remove them, minimise them or ignore them - then all would be well. This episode explores the topic of a presenter's nerves. Where do they come from? Why does it happen to us? What might the purpose of them be?
August 26, 2021
One at a time
In this episode I describe metaphors involving aircraft marshallers, the use of a home hifi system and making an audio recording of an opera. I also offer a comparison of cabin announcements typically made by the crew and pilots of a commercial flight. Sometimes we need a little help to see the wood for the trees, and I hope this episode suggests that presenting might not need to be as complicated or daunting as we sometimes make it.
August 19, 2021
Mind Games
Apparently the US Businessman John Peers once said; "you can't lead a cavalry charge if you think you look silly on a horse.” In much the same way, you can’t present unless you want to. This episode explores the presenter's mindset, which can influence and sometimes determine the success of a presentation.
August 12, 2021
What are you actually doing?
When you interact with someone, what are you actually doing to them? When sending a message, what is your intention when you choose to write “Yes”, “Yeah”, “Yup” or “Uh-huh” in response to a question? What impact are you trying to create? If my assertion that presenting is performing a familiar act in an unusual setting is valid, then it can pay dividends to have a greater sense of control over how that impact is created. By looking in greater detail at what it is we are actually doing moment-to-moment when we communicate, this episode aims to give the presenter a deeper understanding of how they might encourage an audience towards thinking, feeling and doing something different as a result of their presentation.
August 05, 2021
Preparation is not Rehearsal
The content of our presentation is what we want to say; it's the information that we think will help our sales team do better, the description of a new process that our colleagues must adhere to, the latest results of our research or the new idea that we want to share. Our delivery of it is how we bring it to life, create a compelling vision with it or use it to motivate or persuade. Being clear about the difference between preparing the content and rehearsing its delivery is essential, if we are to give both disciplines the time they need so that our presentation is as effective as possible.
July 29, 2021
An Unusual Setting
Almost everyone talks, some more frequently than others, and as an act it is one that is very familiar. Typically we do it with little preparation or conscious control; our brain just transmits thoughts to our mouths and the words come tumbling out. The ability to speak with a specific intention such as to convince or persuade, perhaps by debating the merits of our favourite footballer or pop band, is also something we do without too much planning, as we can be carried by our passion or interest. But if we transpose that conversation from the familiar surroundings of a bar or coffee shop and place it in an unusual setting, such as a lecture hall, conference centre or stage in-front of fifty people - we can suddenly feel incredibly exposed, uncertain and frightened. But what's actually changed apart from circumstance? We're still ourselves and we still know all about our favourite pop band or footballer, it's just that lots of people are looking at us and we suddenly feel as though we have far more to lose. In this episode, I argue that if we can distinguish between the act of speaking from the setting in which it takes place, it can be easier to identify the things we need to develop in order to present more effectively.
July 22, 2021
The Background
The first episode sets out the stall for this podcast series by describing the circumstances that sparked my curiosity and interest in certain aspects of communication. My conviction is that as creative, imaginative and resourceful beings, we all have an innate ability to communicate, but access to the resources that allow us to do so often becomes restricted when we step in to an unusual or highly charged situation such as a presentation. In considering how we might solve this problem, I draw a distinction between the structure of a piece of communication and its delivery, and invite you to compare your own experiences with those that I describe over the course of the series, and consider which ideas, exercises and practises might help you to present more effectively.
July 15, 2021
Beginners Call
Dancing in the Line of Fire is a series of podcasts exploring aspects of Presentation Delivery from a personal perspective. It is designed to stimulate thought, challenge assumptions and offer ways of approaching the act of public speaking and giving presentations that might help those wishing to present better. Starting in the Summer of 2021 and drawn from over twenty-five years' experience, I share my thoughts and experience through stories, examples, metaphors and models. This trailer is an invitation to join me on the journey and provides an idea of what you might expect.
June 30, 2021