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[Chinese New Year] Presentation Lessons from the Chinese Zodiac: The Monkey

February 8, 2016 / Blog audience engagement, chinese zodiac, presentation, presentation lessons, public speaking, Rick Enrico, SlideGenius, year of the monkey

An illustration of a monkey swinging with lanterns and traditional Chinese buildings in the background. The text reads, "Presentation Lessons from the Chinese Zodiac: MONKEY." The smiling monkey, wearing a hat with a Chinese character, offers insights into PowerPoint slide design.

In the Chinese lunar calendar, each year is represented by a Chinese zodiac animal sign. It’s believed that people born under each sign possess certain personal characteristics. This is a cycle that takes twelve years to repeat itself.

This 2016, we enter the Year of the Fire Monkey. According to San Francisco astrologist Susan Levitt, it’s the ninth animal sign in the Chinese zodiac. Characterized by traits such as curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness, the monkey is a lively animal that’s known as a smart trickster.

At first, these may not sound like positive traits for an experienced and composed presenter. After all, monkeys may seem too hyperactive and troublesome for their own good. If we dig beneath the surface, however, there are quite a few things to learn from our roguish simian friends.

Let’s look at some Year of the Monkey tips that can help you dominate the presentation stage.

Communicate CuriosityCurious monkey hanging from a tree

People born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be curious and ambitious. They’re seen to have a great thirst for knowledge and often feel the need to try everything at once. However, this doesn’t mean you should start asking your audience personal questions, crossing the line from being professional to poking your nose into other people’s private lives.

Simply expressing curiosity towards your listeners can improve audience connection for business people and casual listeners alike. This can come in the form of challenging possibilities, displaying interest, and offering opinions. Give your audience the impression that you’re eager to know what problems are currently affecting them. Words like “I’d be very interested to know,” “How do you feel about,” and “From my point of view” are a few of the magic phrases that can put you and your audience on the same page.

Persuade them by showing them how curious and welcoming you are about taking their sides into consideration. By sharing your client’s concerns related to things like costs and implementation dates, you show that you’re willing to work with them as partners.

Expressing interest in your audience’s wants and needs makes them feel more valued. This makes it easier to connect with them for a more persuasive and engaging pitch.

Practice PlayfulnessMonkey playing while holding a banana

Our simian friends are also known for being mischievous. They love to play around and enjoy practical jokes, traits that are reflected in people born during the Year of the Monkey. However, said traits can be both good and bad, depending on how you approach them.

A little mischief can add a dose of fun to your presentation as long as you don’t overdo it. With people born under this sign, high energy can be a key to success but can likewise distract from main ideas during a presentation. It can be easy to enjoy yourself so much and accidentally go overboard with your delivery, causing your audience to forget about your main points.

Like with our previous tip, however, a restrained approach to playfulness can make for a more powerful delivery.

Sprinkling some humor onto your speech effectively engages and entertains people. It can also bring people back from the clutches of boredom, especially during highly technical discussions. With so much information consumed every day, an icebreaker can definitely make everyone chuckle or at least smile, giving them a quick breather from an otherwise straightforward and serious discussion.

One way to create a more cheerful atmosphere is to tell them a simple joke that can connect to your topic. Another way to break the ice is to quote a comical but appropriate line from a movie that fits your subject to lighten up the discussion and break the monotony. Just be wary of potentially offensive material that could undermine your credibility and tune out your listeners.

Play around with your use of language to vary up your speech and sound more interesting, such as by using metaphors, exaggerations, puns, and other figures of speech. A controlled approach to humor can help counterbalance the dull moments while still properly communicating your message, making your pitch even more memorable.

Convey ClevernessMonkey cleverly picked a banana from a tree

Aside from being charismatic and energetic, people born during the Year of the Monkey are also seen as inherently intellectual and creative. This isn’t all that surprising given that apes are our closest genetic relative in the animal kingdom, according to scientists.

To astrologers, people born under this zodiac are the most likely to be eccentric geniuses among the 12 animal signs. Their sparkling wit and sharp minds are the key qualities that make them a good leader. They know how to listen closely and work out solutions at the same time.

These attributes are hallmarks of successful people but also make for an effective speaker.

Be strong-willed, quick-witted, and opportunistic. Never make a move without an established plan. Instead, always come in prepared with a strategy to conquer. Prepare for your speech with the right amount of practice in front of close friends and confidants.

Don’t forget to double check your presentation deck for possible errors that may undermine your credibility. Also, be ready to spot and take advantage of opportunities that may come your way. Don’t rely too much on a preplanned structure and stay on your feet to improvise when needed.

Monkey Marketing MagicMonkey swinging in the tree with a banana on his hand

People born during the Year of the Monkey are believed to be curious, playful, and intelligent, but these positive traits aren’t exclusively theirs for acing that next speech. Here’s a quick wrap-up of the tips and tricks we’ve enumerated in this post:

1. Make your discussion open for everyone so you can gauge their expectations by expressing interest in their wants or needs. Share what you have in store for them and predict what they have in mind.

2. Sprinkle a little bit of fun in your speech. Using a lighthearted approach can equally increase engagement while complementing your message. Recite a funny line or a short joke to help with entertaining your audience.

3. A clever approach to all aspects of your presentation can increase your credibility, making you sound more knowledgeable and convincing in your field. Remain focused and prepared to be able to pounce on any opportunity that can arise from your speech.

Monkeys get a bad reputation, mostly seen by the public as badly behaved creatures, but some of their qualities can be harnessed into positive and productive skills that can bring success in the boardroom. It’s time to take some astrological cues and take this year by the reins with our matching presentation tips.

This 2016, use these monkey-inspired cues to imbue some extra marketing magic for your next pitch.



Clark, Eugene. “Lessons for business in the Year of the Monkey.” December 31, 2015.
Febrilian, Dio. “Asking about Possibilities, Expressing Curiosity and Desire, Expressing Views.” Dio Febrilian. n.d.
Levitt, Susan. “2016 Fire Monkey Year.” Susan Levitt. October 1, 2013.
“Chinese Horoscope: The Monkey Sign (猴).” Scientific Psychic. n.d.