After attending (or watching) a series of presentations (continuing education classes) or some other type of lecture where someone was speaking with a PowerPoint presentation, I’ve developed a couple of
strong opinions thoughts about how one should present in these situations. We have such limited time to do anything outside of work or family time that when we attend a conference, class or even a weekly meeting within one’s own office, don’t waste others’ time and don’t waste your own.
Know your audience
Find out ahead of time the audience to whom you are speaking. In my case it is usually architects, with occasional contractors, and a few engineers. It is important to know who the majority of the audience is so you can tailor the presentation to them. In other words, don’t present general information that most or all architects already know. It’s insulting. If you have special knowledge or special information for which this audience can benefit, let’s hear it. Otherwise, I don’t want to hear someone spouting off everything they know about a subject and we all hate a sales pitch. Edit your material.
Know your timeframe
Let’s face it, none of us are that interesting that someone else wants to listen to us for very long. The fact you’re still reading this humbles me because that’s just the truth of the matter. When given a time frame, find a way to figure out how to end on time, or better yet, early.
In my studio, I coach my students on giving presentations. We give them a time frame to present and make them practice. It’s a bit like storytelling to make it interesting. We ought to do the same for a formal presentation. Figure out how many seconds per slide or whatever you need and then trim it down.
When you go over, what you are basically saying is “I’m selfish and what I have to say is far more important than anything else. My time is more important than yours and the presenters that are going to follow me are just going to have to wait or their time will be reduced.” Is that harsh? Is that true?
This goes for a board meeting or an informal meeting in an office. Have an agenda, stick to the agenda and don’t let the side chatter or after meeting social talk extend the meeting. Adjourn the meeting promptly, take no more comments and let everybody go back to wherever they need or want to be. If you want to keep talking, take it elsewhere. I am going home.
Know what is useful
The reason we are attending this meeting is you must have some knowledge or information that I don’t know. We live in a world that is full of information and Google is at my fingertips. If you are going to be presenting information to me, tell me something that I can’t find out quickly from researching the web. More importantly, I need to know how to use the data or how to interpret the data. How do I make decisions? All of the other technical information can be discovered on our own time. If I have to listen to you, I want to know why this information is important and how or why one can make decisions about this material. Then tell me where I can find additional information when necessary.
Above all of that, feel free tell a joke, share a poem or something else briefly in there along the way to keep it light. Tell everyone else to turn off their phone, show respect and have a wonderful meeting.
photos are from fredjk’s stock photo gallery on Stock.Xchng (used under the Standard Restrictions)