Perhaps the saddest comment I have heard related to #presentationskills was one junior colleague saying to another; “what he suggests is interesting, but I wouldn’t do it for an important presentation.” Of course I recognise the privileged position I am in relative to presentations. I understand that change is hard and harder from within the ranks. I understand that conformity is a powerful influence on our behaviour. I recognise that not everyone thinks that this approach is beneficial. I also recognise that not everyone agrees. The reality of the comment though makes me a little sad.
Change is hard and hardest for those who feel they have the most to lose. Thus an “important” presentation is probably not the place to gamble if one is uncertain. A presentation is about the audience and if the audience for their own reasons don’t like the nature of a presentation it will fail. Being different is not the same as being good and changing the nature of one’s presentation requires a good understanding of the principles for it to be effective more than simply a change in typography or colour. Change takes time and sadly, because of the (perceived) competitive nature of presentations it is probably better to be middling rather than at the extreme, even if that extreme was excellence. All of which makes me a little sad.
As encouragement though I reflect on the responses of colleagues who have engaged with this concept, of the invitations to speak and share these ideas and of the colleagues who have take those giant steps and found reward, encouragement, enthusiasm and satisfaction that thie ability to communicate has been improved. Please make sure your read the guest posts on the blog for independent views that this is worthwhile, even and especially for “important presentations”.