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[Present]ation June 11, 2010

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Presentations.

What makes a good presentation? I submit that anyone can improve the presentations they make by reflecting about what the word itself implies.

First, and most obviously, a presentation is about the message you want to get across: what you are presenting. It’s a simple enough idea, sure, but one that few really appreciate. Knowing what one has to present amounts to more than just knowing one’s material inside and out. It involves envisioning the best way to convey this to the audience, going through the painstaking process of adding, editing and removing elements so as to make it easy for anyone listening to appreciate the importance of what one has to say. Putting words or pictures on a slide does not a presentation make; but rather it’s the discipline of putting oneself in the audience’s shoes long beforehand and exerting the effort to make the presentation appealing to them that gives it a shot at being the least bit memorable.

Second, presentations are about being there: being present. Any opportunity to present is not simply a chance to make an impression; it is also a chance to make a connection and quite possibly make a difference in someone’s life. Admittedly, it’s easy to take this for granted, and thereby easy to screw up without even trying. Such as recycling a presentation without tailor-fitting it to the audience’s needs or just not being on top of one’s game while delivering a presentation. It can happen to the best of us, so we should always remind ourselves that we are the most important part of our presentation, and if only for that reason we must truly and completely be there.

Finally, each presentation should be a gift: a present. Consider: whenever we prepare a gift for someone, we aim to give the best that we can. We do so keeping in mind what the recipient would want or need. And we do so without giving much thought to what we might get in return. If more people approached presentation this way, taking care to give the best of themselves for the sake of their audience, it stands to reason that there’d less “death by PowerPoint” and more awesome presentations.

So have something to say. Be there. Make it your gift to your audience.

Then present, present, present.


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