#1027 Mindful Presentations

Ellen Langer on How to Give Them

In our last +1, we hung out with Alexandra and Steve Chandler and John Madden as we talked about Connection over Perfection.

Today I want to chat about Ellen Langer’s ideas on how to give what she calls “Mindful Presentations.” We’ll connect her wisdom back to Steve’s wisdom and see if we can bring it all together in YOUR life.


I actually interviewed Ellen the other day.

As we’ve discussed, Ellen is a social psychologist and the first female professor to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. She’s known as the “mother of mindfulness” research and is also the creator of the “psychology of possibility.”


She’s also the embodiment of the energy she teaches—totally, authentically, and mindfully alive in the moment.

Fun story: When we first connected on Zoom, she was in her basement art studio painting. She didn’t realize we’d be capturing video of our interview so she told me that she needed to brush her hair and put on some lipstick as she walked me upstairs, set the computer on her kitchen counter and then came back a minute later. (Hah.)

I told her she looked great then, as I was taking my standard Optimus breath before going live she said, “You look cute!”

(Laughing. I kid you not. That’s like me?!? Too funny. 😲)

Anyway, we had a super fun chat exploring mindfulness and the psychology of possibility. (Check out the interview to hear her describe some of the astonishing experiments she’s conducted over the last several decades.)

Today I want to chat about those “Mindful Presentations” she likes to give.

Here’s how she puts it in The Power of Mindful Learning: “My notes before a lecture are sparse to nonexistent. I fear that if I write out all that I plan to say, it will be hard not to rely on past thoughts when I give the lecture again. Without a script, I’m forced to reinvent the lecture instead of delivering a canned one. I remember the general points, but the particulars have to be discovered. Preparing in this manner makes it much more likely that I will deliver a lecture that reflects my current thinking and the present situation; I’m not tied to a rigid outline or to reading notes. Moreover, I find that I feel excited by the possibility of coming to a new insight.

← Love that.

You ever give presentations?

We all have different ways to prepare (and a key part of mindfulness is to mindfully create our style rather than conform to another’s perspective!), but I just love Ellen’s description here and it’s a nice affirmation of the style I practice.

I don’t know about you, but the perfectionist in me has always felt that I needed to have nearly every word of a talk prepped and ready in advance. The other part of me has always preferred to have a basic framework/mindmap in place and then just let it rip.

One is much more mindful (and fun!!!) than the other.

The reality is, if we write out every.single.word to make sure we’ve got it juuuuuust right we might have just killed the talk!

(The irony, of course, is that with these +1s I DO have every word scripted but I deliberately chose this style for this format while keeping the “lectures” super dynamic.)

All of which brings us back to Steve Chandler and some of the best advice I’ve ever received on how to give presentations.

Remember: It’s all about CONNECTION over Perfection.

Yes, preparation is important.


If we mindlessly try to recall every detail of a presentation we’ve created, we may deliver it “perfectly” and, in the process, lose the very energy that would have made it compelling.

Today’s +1.

Got a talk coming up?

Here’s to mindfully preparing and…

Mindfully letting the moment dictate where we go as we share our enthusiasm and focus on connection over perfection!

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