Ever since my early warning shot about Powerpoint, I’ve noticed an increasing tide of writing about:
a. how much people hate giving presentations
b. how bad they are at it
I just came across a super new book on the topic, Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes. Even if the content wasn’t good (it is) the quality of the printing is so wonderful, it’s a pleasure to hold. (found it courtesy of the insight of Richard Pachter).
Part of what Andy points out is that presentations to groups of 50 or more are usually done by people who aren’t comfortable doing them, and they’re not usually very well received.
Which led to this thought:
The best presentation might be no presentation.
If you’re going to bother to do something, you ought to do it very well indeed. Otherwise, don’t. Don’t show up. Don’t waste your time (or mine.)
"But," you say, "I have to." I have to because my boss said I do, or because I can’t make the sale without it or, best reason of all, because it’s my best chance to be in a position of authority in front of a whole bunch of prospects/influencers/investors/media, etc.
But, if you’re going to do a lousy job…
So, here’s what I’d like you to consider:
Skip straight to the part that people seem to like the best, and that you’re the best at: the Q&A.
Step 1: get a confederate (a helper, not someone from Atlanta) to sit in the audience ready with the first obviously seeded question.
Step 2: Walk onstage. No laptop.
Step 3: "Any questions?"
Step 4: The seeded question is something like: "So, Seth, what have you been up to?"
Answer it. In English. Like the person you are, not the flat, stressed, boring person you become when you have a Powerpoint under your control.
At that point, five minutes into it, you’ve told me an honest human story about why you came and what you’re up to. Now, the audience, sufficiently engaged, will happily pepper you with questions for your entire alloted time.
That’s the way the world really works off-stage. Maybe it would work for you on-stage.