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Presentation Masterclass – Part 1: Introduction

Presentation Masterclass – Part 1: Introduction

I have been observing, delivering and training people in presentation techniques for over 20 years now and my considered, professional, opinion on the subject is this:

MOST PRESENTATIONS SUUUUUUUUCK!

In almost every sphere of human endeavour, the outcome can be plotted on a bell-curve – a few really skilled people over on the right, a few really hopeless people over on the left and a whole bunch or just-above or just-below average people in the middle:

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    I suspect that the curve for presentations looks more like this:

      Why?

      Seriously. Why?

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      How hard could this be? You get someone who knows what they are talking about standing up in front of a audience, with a bunch of visual aids to make the job of imparting information easier, and they impart the information. How hard could that be?

      I have been involved with presentation at a professional level for over 20 years. If I include my earliest experiences with presentations – people teaching me stuff in primary school – then the figure is closer to 40 years. And the vast majority of them were dreadful. Teachers, coaches, lecturers, tutors, trainers, consultants – most of them suuuuuuuuuuuucked!

      Think back. Put aside all your experiences in the world of work for a moment and just think back to your schooldays. How many exceptional teachers did you have in your 14 years of primary and secondary schooling? I had four excellent teachers in primary school and three in secondary, out of a total about 80 people who taught me various subjects between the ages of 4 and 17. Now, for our normal distribution bell curve, 7 out of 80 is about right, but it still sucks when you have to sit through it. And that’s before I even got to college, much less the world of work with all of its woeful presenters. Why does this happen? By dint of the fact that the person is up at the front of the room with the slides flickering behind him or her, they must be some kind of expert on their topic, whether that topic is the 3Rs in primary school or Web 2.0 marketing. So their expertise in the topic is rarely the problem.

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      I have gradually come to the realisation that the biggest problem with presentations is that human beings are simply too self-involved for the process to work well. Presenters are so wrapped up in themselves and their topic that they rarely seem to take a moment to consider what would be the best method for imparting this information to their audience. Audiences are so deluged with advertising messages and radio jingles, with phone calls, voicemail, email, SMS and IM, with… stuff in their personal lives that unless you, the presenter, are wowing them with every word, you will lose their attention in a matter of seconds.

      Add to that the fact that the bar has been lowered to such an extent that most audiences are resigned to expecting dull, rambling, semi-legible, bullet-point-ridden presentations, and it’s not hard to see how we have arrived at this low ebb in communication.Both sides are at fault, to be sure; but if you are scheduled to make a presentation soon, you can control only one side of the conversation. Exercise that control. You have no say regarding the audience’s mood or willingness to listen, but you control your presentation, and in this series of posts, I will provide you with the knowledge, tools and approach to maximise your chance of success.

      The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated. (William James)

      The psychologist and philosopher William James said, “The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.” If your presentation is going to have any chance of success, it needs to be built on this understanding. As a starting point, I recommend some detox to clear your body and mind from a lifetime of exposure to sucky presentations. I strongly recommend that you expose yourself to some great presenters:

      • Check out Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Jobs, and Dick Hardt on YouTube.
      • Have a look at some of the wizards on TED.com – Rives, Hans Rosling, Barnett Thomas, Lawrence Lessig and Ken Robinson all stand out, but there are reams more on this invaluable resource.
      • Go over to Common Craft and have a look at their ‘plain English’ tutorials on aspects of Web 2.0

      The one common theme that emerges from this tremendous diversity of presenters, topics and styles is RESPECT. By every word and deed, they demonstrate absolute respect for both their audiences and themselves.

      A good starting point. The essential starting point.

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      Next: Planning your presentation.

      More by this author

      5 Key Questions When Planning Your Presentation (Presentation Masterclass – Part 2) Presentation Masterclass – Part 1: Introduction Guy Kawasaki’s Thoughts on Online Life Where am I going? Putting your life in context. Communication 101

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      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

      7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

      7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

      What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

      For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

      It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

      1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

      The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

      What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

      The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

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      2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

      Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

      How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

      If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

      Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

      3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

      Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

      If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

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      These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

      What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

      4. What are my goals in life?

      Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

      Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

      5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

      Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

      Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

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      You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

      Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

      6. What do I not like to do?

      An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

      What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

      Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

      The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

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      7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

      Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

      But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

      “What do I want to do with my life?”

      So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

      Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

      Reference

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