When Marc told me on the phone that my selection day included a 4-minute presentation, I was chill. Presentations are my jam. I’m lucky, I went to a good school that taught me the importance and the skills of speaking publicly early on. This helped me overcome what I felt was the curse of introversion, gave me the ability to appear confident and to speak up in public (at least in formal/academic situations), etc. At university, I gave more, longer, meatier presentations to bigger and more important audiences. By the time I applied to SCA the word presentation didn’t phase me in the slightest, bring it on.
Then, he described some past student’s presentations. I followed up with some research. Read some SCABs, even got in touch with some alumni. I realised that what he wanted was not a 4-minute presentation, it was a 4-minute performance. And performance is a totally different ball game.
I present. I do not perform.
The thought makes my skin crawl. My heart races, my armpits drip and I search immediately for the nearest emergency exit. I don’t feel the rush that actors or comedians describe, I feel terror.
So as I do, I got defensive. (I now know this to be my monkey).
Why does Marc want us to perform? Who does he think he is? I’m not a fucking monkey. I won’t dance for him. This isn’t fucking drama school, I’d hate fucking drama school.
My selection day presentation was shit. (I now see how I could have channelled this anger into a defiant presentation – day 2 of SCA and I already know enough to totally reinvent how I got in – but at the time I just flaked). My petulance resulted in me having to do a second selection day, a second presentation. ‘We just didn’t see your creativity.’ (I know, but my creativity doesn’t dance.) This time I knew how much I wanted to go to the school, so I complied to the extent I felt I could muster. It was fine. He let me in. Etc.
Fast forward to today, and the same frustration came right back. Improv? Performance poetry? Did you not hear me this isn’t.fucking.drama.school.i’d.hate.fucking.drama.school.
This is ad-school.
I’m here to pitch, not to perform.
I won’t go into everything I learned from both of these activities (It was a lot. And I had fun.) But I thought it was worth reflecting on this one because I think it’s going to impact my entire career.
To pitch / to present / to perform.
I thought that pitching was presenting. I thought it was within my comfort zone, I thought that I’d be good at it. It was part of the draw of the job. Today I was pushed outside of my comfort zone, I was pushed to perform. And it made me realise why a presentation will never be a good pitch.
You present information. You perform art.
And at the risk of sounding pretentious, what we (will) make is art.
The point of art is to move, the point of information is just to inform. Good advertising moves, it doesn’t just inform. And maybe that’s part of why SCA alumni make such good advertising: we’re pushed to perform, to move, to make art – not to settle for presentations.