4 types of presentation energy: Survival, Safety, Shallow & Smart

Maurice DeCastro
5 min readApr 6, 2024

There is growing awareness of the impact our energy can have on our results both personally and professionally; that includes our presentation energy.

Everyone is familiar with that fact that energy can be either positive or negative. It can help or hinder our achievements, relationships, well-being and every aspect of our lives.

What about our presentation energy?

Public speaking and presenting is something that anyone can do isn’t it?

If you believe the old saying, “Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them”, it’s easy.

All you have to do is gather your information, list it in the form of bullet points on a few slides and read it to your audience while they read it at the same time.

I’m being silly of course, who would do such a foolish thing?

You’d be surprised!

As preposterous as it may sound, we see many intelligent, creative and talented professionals doing exactly that every week.

The only reason it’s happening is because of a lack of mindfulness. Mindfulness of the nature and power of how we can manage our own presentation energy.

Let’s take a look at 4 types of presentation energy:

  1. Survival energy

This is a presentation energy many people are familiar with.

This energy has no respect for age, experience, intelligence or status.

It’s an energy which creates our state of mind and is exhausting. Survival energy is one fraught with fear, doubt and anxiety. It’s debilitating and leads to people doing whatever they can to avoid presenting at all costs. If they are unable avoid presenting, they adopt the energy mode of at least surviving the experience.

The presentation energy of survival is focused largely on sharing information as quickly as possible to put an end to our misery. As you may imagine, this destructive presentation energy is draining for both the presenter and their audience.

How to step out of survival energy

This presentation energy like all of the others is a learned experience and the good news is that there is a great deal we can do to step out of it. There are however, no quick fixes. It takes commitment, mindfulness and effort. The following articles are filled with extremely valuable tools and tips to help you.

7 Tips to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

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6 Steps To Presenting With Confidence

2. Safety energy

The next step up from survival energy is the presentation energy of safety.

It’s also extremely tiresome for both the presenter and their audience.

Safety energy is a close cousin of survival energy because it uses many of the negative elements described earlier to ensure that we just don’t ‘rock the boat.’

If we just focus on doing what everyone else does, conforming and maintaining the status quo, what could go wrong. Our energy is directed to keeping things nice and routine, reasonable and safe.

When we are operating from safety energy we may feel less anxious but our presentation content and delivery is often lacklustre.

How to step out of safety energy

This presentation energy is also a learned experience which emanates from simply doing what most other people in the organisation do when presenting. The following articles are filled with extremely valuable tools and tips to help you.

5 Keys to Accessing Your True Mindful Presenter

Present ideas, insights and imagination, not just information

How to avoid the feeling of Groundhog Day in business presentations

3. Shallow energy

This isn’t as depleting for presenters as the former two energies but it is really painful for most audiences.

This is a presentation energy which is very self-centred, paying little attention to the needs of our audience and revolves largely around self-indulgence.

The essence of shallow energy is to show our audience how clever we are, how much we know and how hard we work. It focuses on gaining recognition and validation by showing off our expertise to elevate our credibility and reputation.

In short, it’s simply presenting to make ourselves look good.

How to step out of shallow energy

The starting point is to make our presentation entirely about our audience and not ourselves.

The following articles are filled with extremely valuable tools and tips to help you.

The 5 Most Important Words in Business Presenting

Mindful Presenting — 9 Ways to RESPECT your Audience

Connecting is the key to high impact presenting

4. Smart energy

The jewel in the crown of high impact public speaking and presenting is smart energy.

The key to smart energy is mindfulness.

It’s about consciousness, clarity and choice.

This presentation energy can only be acquired once we have stepped out of survival, safe and shallow energy.

It’s an energy available to all of us and can be learned just as effectively as the others. The difference of course is that this one is not only extremely positive, it’s what every audience wants from us as presenters.

How to tap into your smart energy

Once we’ve relinquished the 3 negative energies the following articles are filled with extremely valuable tools and tips which will help you to tap into your smart energy.

16 presentation tips to help you to stand out from the crowd

7 Steps to Tap In To Your Presentation Genius

How to present to smart people -10 tips for presenters

The future of high impact presenting — Mindfulness is the key

What is your presentation energy like?

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”

Albert Einstein

If you would like to transform your presentation energy into smart energy:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image courtesy of Canva.com



Maurice DeCastro

Author, speaker, trainer, presenter - former corporate executive passionate about personal leadership, people and results.