December 19, 2008

Presentations Are Not Plays

Filed under: Personal Branding, School — Robert John Ed @ 11:45 pm

Good news, I’m officially done with the most difficult aspect of the MBA experience.  The core is over.  I also began my new internship today, which is shaping up as an amazing experience in non profit marketing work.  Adding new skills and knowledge is always a good idea and there is a ridiculous amount to be procured here.

We also finished a case competition on CH Robinson the other day; they were a great participant at the Carlson school and we’re all thankful.  It was quite an experience.  

The whole presentation thing got me thinking.  Presentations are far too often approached incorrectly.  People will often treat presentations as though they are acts in a play, with each aspect to be recited in similitude to one of  Shakespeare’s sonnets.  Big mistake.  Presentations are not meant to be acts in a play.  They are simply explanations regarding something needing it.  Though there is certainly room for a bit of theatre, it should be secondary to actually getting the information across to the audience.  There is an important distinction here, some people are extremely talented in offering ideas in a “performance” of sorts.  Yet often people will think that they must memorize a presentation and deliver it like a play, with any deviation being a mistake.

Au contraire.  Great presentations are very much meant to deviate from the given spectrum.  And although I’m not an actor, I’d say that great performers of all kinds (musicians, actors, dancers, etc.) can deviate from a normal performance and actually add to it as such.  People run into issues then, in treating presentations as static recitals, when they forget a piece.  So while they realize they’ve forgotten, it becomes obvious to the audience that this is a recital, and as such not nearly as impacting as a presentation that is as it should be, a story told directly to the audience.  A presenter does much better to focus on what he or she is saying to the audience. What is the real message?  Why are you saying it?  Those things are usually quite obvious (and if they are not, the presentation is doomed anyway).  After figuring these things out, the presentation becomes less important and the issue of transmitting the information becomes paramount.  That is a good presentation.  One that effectively communicates the ideas at hand.


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