Think about the number of presentations you experience in the course of a business week. How many are useful? How many are good? How many could have accomplished the goal in some way other than a "presentation."
Seth Godin makes some provocative statements in his Listen to This post. One excerpt:
"In our scan and skip world, in a world where technology makes it obvious that we can treat different people differently, how can we possibly justify teaching via a speech?
Speech is both linear and unpaceable. You can’t skip around and you can’t speed it up. When the speaker covers something you know, you are bored. When he quickly covers something you don’t understand, you are lost."
I get what he's saying. And I think that one of the real issues lies in the fact that speakers need to do their homework. When they begin to believe that what they have to say is actually what their audience needs to hear, they get into trouble. Most of the success of a presentation or speech happens before the speaker ever stands up.
Do the diagnostic
- Is a presentation really the best way to communicate?
- If so, what does my "audience" want and need to hear? (call some of them on the phone and ask them. They'll give you your content).
- How can I connect the dots instead of provide facts alone?
- Do I still need a presentation?
- If I do, is it better to sit around a table and connect rather than stand up and create a classroom/teacher atmosphere?
- If it's a stand-up, what media can I use to keep people engaged? (Bullet points probably aren't the right answer).
- If it's a stand-up, why use media at all? If my message is crafted with word images and created to incite action, then I should be able to do that in 20 minutes or less. That's about the attention span before people start squirming in their seats.
Remember this: You are the presentation. It's your passion, credibility, and language that will engage the group. How authentic you are will determine the depth of your connection. If you want to buy a "how-to" book and picture the audience naked, do so at your own risk. Of course you could mix in a little YouTube and MySpace content. . .
Photo source: www.systemdynamics.org