Instinctually, I think most of us know precisely how to organise and deliver a presentation. I most certainly do know my stuff when it comes to creating, organising and delivering a presentations. And because everyone fundamentally knows how to present, we screw things up more often than needed. Sadly, the ones who’re at the receiving end of your important presentation suffer the most.
I would know because I created a pathetic draft of a presentation the other day that didn’t have a logical flow to the organisation nor did it have a narrative. Both are key elements in presentations, unless it isn’t when your colleague points it out to you. Embarrassing, I know. But I’m dang sure this happens to most people who only have to present (as in using a powerpoint or visual aid) occasionally, like me, although I have been delivering talks and keynote (without visual aids) for almost a decade now.
What’s missing? The carryover from creating keynotes/talks to constructing compelling presentations. Both are pretty much the same, but different. In fact, I think putting together a presentation is a lot more nuanced than delivering a talk or a keynote. The former requires a lot of thought into the logical flow of ideas and we, unfortunately, tend to use the software to think instead of relying on the good ole pen and paper to get our ideas down, like we do for a talk. The result is that it takes an enormous amount of time to construct a formal presentation than a talk.
The fix is to start with paper first. Even better — stickies! Organise ideas visually because that’s how we brainstorm naturally. Obviously, we can’t seem to think about paper when we’re under pressure to get a presentation out. But since that’s always going to be the case, you focus on building the habit of brainstorming (or whiteboard, if that’s your thing) and finalising ideas using paper before even touching the software.
It’s easier said than done, thanks to everyone’s expectations but we should do this more often than it’s been done. Like most great things in life.