Last Saturday some friends dragged me out to a house club for a going away party. I’m not a house music listener, I have nothing against the music, it just doesn’t appeal to me. Be that as it may, my friends were having a great time and one of them asked me why I was not dancing. I simply answered I didn’t know how to dance that kind of music. I’m not a great dancer anyway, but house music just seems even more complicated for me. My friend pointed to someone in the middle of the dance floor who had clearly had one too many drinks and was all over the place and said: “you can’t do it worse than that guy”. I was forced to recognize it to be true, so I started moving. I soon forgot my fear of looking foolish and if it ever came to mind I just looked at the poor drunk in the center of the dance floor.
This reminded me of the first time I decided to give a “different” presentation. Back then everyone followed the Power Point rules; it was just the way things were done. I remember that when I compiled my slideshow, full of pictures, with minimalistic graphs and free of bullet points, I thought to myself: “What if they don’t like it?”; “What if they think that I was being lazy? Or not taking the subject seriously?” I remember that those long, text-packed presentations used to bore me to death and I always thought there had to be a better way of communicating. So when I stood in front of my audience, nerve-wrecked, to give my first “different” presentation I thought to myself: “I can’t be worse that all those other guys”. I breathed deeply, started my presentation and ultimately got an A for my “originality and ability to communicate”.
Sometimes people tell me that they are afraid to change their presentation style because they believe that people won’t take them seriously if they diverge from the “norm”. Well, today it is easier than it used to be, this “norm” is questioned more and more every day; and everyday people give “different” presentations and realize it is part of a better communication. If you ever feel such stage fright, just think of all the bad presentations everyone has seen before and tell yourself there is no way you can do it worse than those guys, there is no reason to be afraid, the audience will like you and your style. Pretty good advice, whether you’re going to give a presentation or go out on a Saturday night.
Until next time,
Byron Stanford for Project Presentation.