What are the few big things we need to change to fix presentations?

by Michael Rickwood

In 2021 we can watch more examples than ever to know how to give a good presentation. We see examples of it in TED, top company Keynotes and our favorite lecturers and leaders. 

Yet still there are things that need to be changed. I have tried to collect them into what I call the 5 negatives followed by our very own revolution solutions!

No foundations, people are still too last minute, whether its completing that 20,000-word dissertation at university written the night before or the finance report mixed together from excels and spreadsheets in the metro the same morning. I have seen plenty of TED talks where the speakers arrive to the event with an overlong and convoluted talk. Lack of decent planning leads to difficult situations and loss of credibility. It can also heighten anxiety. Not entirely surewhat this is all about? Neither will your audience be. Not putting them first will not yield the results you want, and if the objective isn’t clear in the first place then it’ll be doubly hard. Always take the time to know your audience needs and context. 

The solution is Revolution 1 – It’s not your presentation – it’s theirs. 

A to A. A to A means instead of taking your audience from A to B or A to C they don’t actually go anywhere. No one wants to sit in a car going nowhere. Telling your life story without actually giving us a reason why it’s meaningful to the audience will not impress anyone. Asking your audience to sit and listen to you without actually achieving anything or giving instructions will not either. Every minute needs to be meaningful. Align your objectives to their needs. 

The solution is Revolution 2 – Aim not inform but to Transform.

Audience Glazed Eyes. We’ve all been there. Sitting through that dull plodding presentation with no interaction, nor variation or clear transitions. Rambling introductions that start and stop like an outboard motor and conclusions that fall off a cliff of silence. Storytelling is not just something we just say to children every evening, now we all need it. 

The solution is Revolution 3 – Create your story before your slides.

Death by persistently dense slides. We’ve all heard the old wives’ tales**.** No more than 5 slides per presentation, 7 bullets per slide, PowerPoint should be banned outright. In 2021 everybody still has an opinion. Communication has different mediums and visual slides and the written documents are 2 separate ones that each require different contexts. You can’t kill 2 birds with one stone trying to take a shortcut and ask the audience to read and listen at the same time, that will just kill your audience.

The solution is Revolution 4 – Don’t confuse slides with documents.

Pressure to be perfect. What’s theone thing behind most modern presenters anxiety? The raising of the bar of presentations from both the professional and the entertainment world. This has created a lot of pressure for the modern presenter, especially now much is being filmed and distributed online. Whether you are an executive, a start-up or an academic, being able to stand up and speak is an important career skill. But rest assured, no one can be better at you than you. So don’t compare yourself to others.

The solution is Revolution 5 – Aim not for perfect but personal.