05 February 2015

The Zen of Presentations, part 67: Lessons from Left Shark

The real winner of the 49th Super Bowl was not a football team.

It was the left shark.


Katy Perry performed at halftime flanked by two dancers in shark outfits. The right shark’s moves were crisp, timed, and coordinated with the music.

The left shark’s moves were... hell, let’s just say it, left shark forgot the routine they all rehearsed. He just kind of waggled around and hoped.


But who did the people remember? Nay, who did the people embrace? The precise, professional right shark? No! The people fell for left shark.


In less than a week, left shark has entered the pop culture hall of fame.

Left shark is commemorated in t-shirts.


Left shark’s dance is made into a flipbook.


And “Dance like nobody’s watching” has been replaced in the vocabulary.


Even I, who did not watch the Super Bowl at all, found myself saying earlier this week, “I’m left shark today.” Meaning, “I just can’t get it together, and I don’t really care.”


People loved left shark because they related to left shark. Left shark wasn’t perfect, but the dance was genuine, and it was endearing. People responded to its humanity fishanity. Left shark was a trooper, and not about to let a little uncertainty with the dance routine stop it. The show must go on.

Pixar artist Emma Coates wrote that one of their first rules storytelling is:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

We admire left shark for trying more we admire right shark for its success.

The lesson from left shark for presenters is that your presentation doesn’t have to be letter perfect. It doesn’t have to be polished. If you are willing to laugh at yourself a little, being the imperfect, authentic you will take you a long way.



Sorry, Garr Reynolds. Sorry, Nancy Duarte. But...



1 comment:

Anthony Salvagno said...

This is a great example! Any scientist who has ever given a presentation knows what it is like to be asked a question in the middle of a talk, totally throwing off your groove. And as they say, the show must go on!