As I’m the first one here, and at this point probably the only one, I’ll begin this conversation by stating my basic beliefs about presentations and presentation design.
The first is that speeches and presentations are the single most powerful form of communication that we have at our disposal. When we stand up in front of our colleagues, employees, prospective customers or anyone else to speak, we have an incredible opportunity to grab their undivided attention and put our words straight into their minds. We control the message, tone, pace, emphasis and order of the information. No other means of communication can do that so directly. It’s an awesome power that too few people use and even fewer use well.
The second is that most presentations fail miserably not just because they are badly conceived, structured, written, delivered or supported, though they often are, but because the speaker never decided exactly what it was that he was trying to accomplish. The vast majority of the presentations I have seen, in business or elsewhere, appear to have no specific purpose. It seems that the speaker is presenting only because someone asked, or ordered, him or her to do it. As the famous New York Yankees catcher and manager, Yogi Berra, supposedly said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
The last is that you can’t get your message across to anyone, if you don’t grab and keep their attention. We all have busy, stressful, fragmented lives. Giving a speaker our undivided attention is rarely our top priority, despite our best intentions. Given the least opportunity, our minds wander. To be effective, speakers need to reach and grab every single person in the audience by the nose and say; LISTEN TO THIS,…… THINK ABOUT THIS,……. REMEMBER THIS.
Most of my attitude and approach to presentation design and delivery stems from these three basic ideas.