Every presentation in which I introduce Project Presentation and what we do, I start off by telling the audience that Project Presentation is trying to change the world.
Change the world of presentations, I continue.
Now, the first sentence might sound pretentious to many, and amending it with the second makes them sit back and think that this is a more attainable goal. However our resolve is more closely tied to the first statement than people realize.
Yesterday I was giving a presentation impact course; my first objective was to change people’s mindset, the way they think of presentations: People have the nasty habit of calling a Power Point slideshow “My presentation”, the first thing you must realize is that if your slideshow equals your presentation then there is no need for you to be there. A slideshow is a visual aid, no more, for further explanation on this read When not to make a presentation.
There are many other roadblocks that I find on the way to changing the world of presentations, but one of the most recurring is your boss. People complain that their boss enforces rules on their presentations such as including all the information so that they can send the slideshow to those who couldn’t attend. There is no way your presentation can include all the information on the subject and be effective. Information you don’t include in your presentation should be comprised in a handout which accounts for the fact that you are not there to present the topic. These rules of “you must include all your information in your slideshow” or “if you are going to speak for 20 minutes you can’t have more than 30 slides” are outdated, rules that emerged when Power Point was a new tool that people didn’t know how to use. Today these rules are simple archaic.
How can we change the world of presentations if we don’t first transform people’s conception of communicating information?
Towards the end of the course one of the attendees said to me: “I hope you succeed in changing the world, it will make my life easier”. I was appalled! This is the main problem; again, a change in mindset is drastically needed: the easiest and laziest approach is to include all your information on the slideshow and just stand there and read it. Selecting the most important parts, that which helps you convey your message and present it in a way which makes your audience interested, plus making a completely separate document which does include all relevant information to give out, is much more difficult than what has been the norm for presentations up until now. This is the first thing that bosses don’t understand, when they demand that you follow these rules they are actually making you produce under average work which makes you and the company look just like anybody else instead of exceling over the rest.
What does this mean? It means that not everyone is suited to make and give presentations anymore, the times in which anybody could put data onto a slide and present it are extinct. People are demanding more from presenters, they don’t want to have their time wasted by presenters who don’t add anything to the content.
Changing the world of presentations forces us to change these preconceptions and misguided principles, to change the world. If you are somebody’s boss and reading this, if you believe you have someone capable of producing 21st century presentations, go up to them and tell them they don’t have rules to follow for their next presentations. I bet you’ll be amazed by the results.
Until next time,
Byron Stanford for Project Presentation.