That Benjamin Franklin was a true Renaissance man is something of an understatement. He was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, statesmen and diplomat. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals and was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

In 1726, at just 20 years old, Franklin wrote a now-famous list of 13 virtues to follow to lead a virtuous life. In honor of a clean slate in the New Year, let’s take a look at what we can learn from them as presenters.

 1.     Temperance

Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2.     Silence

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; Avoid trifling Conversation.

Include only what truly matters in your presentation. Never include anything superfluous or unnecessary.

 3.     Order

Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

Make sure to spend an appropriate amount of time on each particular area of presentation design: content, design, and delivery. Don’t spend so much time on content that you forget design, for example.

 4.     Resolution

Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

Before you even begin work on your presentation, resolve to create, design and deliver the best presentation you possibly can. Don’t accept mediocrity.

 5.     Frugality

Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

Are all the elements in your presentation necessary? Did you use only precisely what you needed to use? Is there anything extra that could be cut? Be especially frugal with people’s time; never waste it.

 6.     Industry

Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.

Be certain that every sentence you speak, and every word you say in your presentation is necessary and useful. Don’t waste your time or your audience’s time with something superfluous or lacking in value.  

7.     Sincerity

Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

Always be sincere. People can spot a fake from a mile away, and if you lose your credibility, you’ll immediately lose your audience.

 8.     Justice

Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

 9.     Moderation

Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

Avoid extremes in any element of your presentation. Too much color in design is not a good thing, just as too much enthusiasm in delivery isn’t either. Find moderation and stay there.

10.  Cleanliness

Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

You’re going to feel as good as you look for your presentation, so get up there looking like a million dollars. Confidence is key, and an easy way to feel superbly confident is by looking good.

 11.  Tranquility

Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

Don’t succumb to nervousness when the big day comes around. Rather, remain calm and collected in the face of your presentation. Keep everything in perspective.

 12.  Chastity

Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation. 

13.  Humility

Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Imitate whomever you’d like, but always practice humility. The higher you think of yourself, the further you’re going to fall when you make an inevitable mistake.


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