Learning Every Day

I’m preparing for a presentation in San Francisco next weekend. This is at an important meeting — where a large organization is talking about change, and bringing in participants from all sectors. This particular group is a bit stuck in terms of growth. As a designer I’ll be talking about how team members can be incredibly empowered by first having great material to use, and then knowing how to use appropriate media for each specific target audience.

Since my first real Powerpoint presentation back in August last year, I’ve researched a great deal, My wife knows when I get that Powerpoint look, and doesn’t want to hear ANY MORE about it. (Except when I’m helping her with hers!)

First In the Alphabet Doesn’t Mean More Important

I’m struck by how many people write and publish on Powerpoint, but more importantly on the art of good presenting. Its as though we’ve got our P’s mixed up. PRESENTING is all caps and powerpoint should be subscript. We’ve got things in the wrong order, thinking that a good powerpoint makes a good presentation. While there’s some truth to this, a poor presentation will never be rescued by a good powerpoint, but I think a great presentation will not necessarily be killed by a bad powerpoint.

Great Teachers

When my kids were a little younger, I got really involved with our local school district. We were always talking about change, and I went to endless committee meetings about curricula, curricula curricula. If we could just get the right curriculum for math, for reading . . . The older teachers would nod, knowing that they’d heard and attended meetings with exactly the same discussion ten years, fifteen years before. If you think back to your favorite teacher, or the teacher who managed to make a difference in your school life, you’ll quickly realize that your recollection has nothing to do with what curriculum your teacher used — it was all about the teacher as a person.

Each time I present, someone will nudge over a little jump drive, saying, “could you put that on my drive for me . . ” and I always oblige. Now I understand, however, that its me I want them to listen to, not just be wowed by the pretty stuff on the screen. So no, I won’t give them the material, but I will be very happy to meet with their particular organization.

Owning Your Presentation

We had a conference call last weekend to prepare for San Francisco, and one person, who has important stuff to contribute, can’t make it. The coordinator then asked her to send that Powerpoint, so someone else can present it. Good idea?
One of my wife’s good friends, was asked to speak at a big conference. The organization had spent a good deal of money and time making a series of killer powerpoints (although perhaps not the type of “killing” they had envisaged). It emerged that being asked to speak really meant just giving one of these powerpoint presentations. Time to disengage! She didn’t though, and struggled to make sense of material that she didn’t know, necessarily completely agree with, and definitely nothing that moved her in a way she felt she could passionately present.

On to SF, with a BIG THANKS to all the authors/presenters I’ve been reading. I don’t know if I’m a better presenter for all this, but I love what I’m speaking about, and I feel great about my materials.


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