A Tale of Two Stories

October 5, 2008

My wife and I both presented at an Educator’s Conference yesterday. No matter how much I read, there’s nothing like seeing other people in action to learn what works and what doesn’t.

The One That Worked

The chap who gave the keynote was great. His topic and delivery were engaging. But… here’s what didn’t work. He started off assuming that everyone had come to this same conference the year before, so in some ways this was a continuation of last year! He didn’t have a remote control, so his talk was punctuated by “next slide please.” All words on the slides, including for the header, which I couldn’t read because it was so small. Lots (and lots) of information, and he talked way too fast. He ran out of time, so went even faster at the end.

But… here’s what worked. He had a GREAT story at the end, that left everyone gasping and clapping, totally envigorated and talking about what a great presentation it was. So I learned (again) that it’s not always about the technical stuff, the slides and all that. If I’m able to more people’s hearts then that’s what counts.

The One That Didn’t

Second guy I heard was presenting a breakout. This fellow has traveled the world presenting his material in all kinds of settings. This time though, I wasn’t so impressed. He started with a video using his laptop speaker for sound. He didn’t have his presentation up and ready to go when he did start, so had to scramble to get it up and running. He continually walked right in front of the monitor, so it blacked out the screen. Only thing that could have been more distracting would have been making animal puppets with his hands!

Later in his presentation though was the worst crime — flipping past multiple slides to get to the next point he wanted to talk about. All this said to me (and perhaps to everyone else) as that he hadn’t prepared his slides for this event. He’d just used an existing presentation. Nothing wrong with that, but to leave in all the stuff that he didn’t want to use?

So there it is — THE STORY WINS.