January 27, 2016
I recently saw a tweet from someone at a conference with a picture of a frankly horrible slide accompanied by the tagline, “X just gave a great presentation.” Have you ever wondered what makes a “great” presentation?
There are presentations where the speaker clearly knows what they are talking about and at the end you have a greater understanding of the topic discussed. There are presentations where the images are captivating and enlightening and lead to better understanding. There are presentations where the speaker is passionate and her enthusiasm washes through the audience like a life giving spring. Each of these might be considered a great presentation.
What about in the first scenario if the speaker mumbles and his pearls of wisdom can’t be heard? If after the second presentation the only thing you can remember is pretty slides, has it actually been a great presentation? The charismatic speaker in scenario 3 may impart no knowledge, merely enthusiasm and if the purpose of the discussion was factual, has it been a great presentation? A great presentation is the product of its composite parts (p cubed), that is the value of the story (p1), supported by the media (p2) and influenced by its overall delivery (p3). A great presentation needs all of its parts to be great. Its greatness is a product of all these.
This is an essential concept to grasp in the construction of a presentation and should encourage the developing presenter, not discourage them. Rather than consider that your knowledge would never match that of your professor and thus your p1 would always be poor, consider a message rather than delivery of facts. Your explanation of a concept is worth more in p1 than a whole pile of facts. You may have seen someone with amazing slides (p2) and think yours will never match but actually if you improved yours just a little, dropping the text and illustrating rather than annotating your p1 that would make such a difference. You may consider that your nervousness will limit (p3) but practise and putting aside your script will actually improve that more than you can imagine. Each of these small improvements, because they are an integral factor will bring about significant improvement in the audience’s perceived value of your presentation, the p cubed value.
A great presentation is the product of its parts. Work to improve each part and you will begin to deliver presentations that you’re audience will recognise as great.
Here’s a link to a great talk from Natalie May @_NMay on presentation skills giving a wee hat tip to me!