Remarkable times call for remarkable change. It's not enough to know a lot about a little, you need to be able to span boundaries and find opportunity in chaos, even if it means you having to risk destruction by breaking with the rules of the past. This is a blog of ideas that challenge conventional thinking about people, technology and the rules that got us here.
Too many bad slides!
I've recently been on a customer seminar tour spanning all of our regions and I (re)discovered a disturbing trend - our presentations are awful and our presenters are frequently ill-prepared or worse treat their presentations as a sermon versus a dialog.
The content for two of the most recent events I attended was so incredibly bad that it was all I could do to stop from poking myself in the eye with a nearby chopstick (one of the dangers of doing business in the Asia-Pacific is that sharp objects are too easy to come by). The very worst part of those experiences was that only one person came up to me afterwards and asked me how they could improve, and I suspect that was because they sat next to me while I ranted about the people who went prior.
While each coaching moment is different, there are a few rules I have found that have helped me when driving a presentation session that have always helped, starting with;
Know your audience. Who they are, what they expect. This is so obvious that most people skip it. Most people also suck as presenters.
Know your objective. What are you asking the audience to do and why. The only thing that's broken more often than this rule is a stuntman's collar bone.
You are the point of power, not the PowerPoint. Don't allow your visual supports to distract from you and your time with your audience.
Fewer slides does not equal better. Whichever fool came up with that idea should be beaten over the head with laser pointer. The seven slide rule might apply when you're pitching a time strapped VC (who's probably heard the same idea four times before) for everyone else, rule #3 trumps all. If that means more slides, so be it.
You do the hard work, so the audience doesn't have to. Don't make it harder to understand than it needs to be, especially important when you are communicating something novel. Lowering cognitive load takes effort - YOURS!
Quality is king! Poor quality slides - this includes typos, formatting errors, poor template hygiene and "slideuments" reflect poorly on the presenter and increase the credibility gap between the audience and the speaker.
It's not a monologue. You have two ears and one mouth, TRY and use them in that proportion. Even when presenting there are listening opportunities prior to walking on stage. Use them!
Know your topic. You can't hide bad knowledge behind great slides. When in doubt, CRAM!
Remember Pause and Effect. Say less, say it well, say it with passion.
Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you told them. Failure to summarise before and after communication is failure to communicate.
Above all else, always ask for feedback, it's a gift. Better still, ask them "how can I perform better?", people are more likely to give you constructive feedback vs flattery when they're asked for areas of improvement. None of the above gets into slide design, content and topic selection or specific ideas on delivery, which may be worthwhile topics to dip into later.