With a few simple words and one tiny step, one man changed everything: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong stepped off the bottom rung of the ladder of The Eagle landing craft onto another world, the moon. The small step was the culmination of so much but following that our existence as human beings changed irrevocably.
Small steps and dramatic changes also happen in the presentation world. The decision to forswear bulletpoints in itself is a very small step. The reality of the change is significant. The understanding that science shows the fallacy of the approach, the reality of losing one’s script, the difficulty in changing completely one’s style, the perceived loss of a backup, the requirement to construct a completely different p2 and handout are themselves daunting. The additional challenges of stepping out from the crowd, challenging authority and conformity similarly are barriers that not every presenter is willing to face. Behind all of this though I suspect there is a more significant and darker realisation.
If every single presentation you have ever delivered, the vast majority of teaching sessions you have attended, every scientific conference, every business meeting, every lecture has been inherently flawed by the nature of their construction and delivery then that is a very different world we are facing, as different as the moon is to the earth. It is not to say they were useless but the reality is none of us learned our craft in lecture theatres rather in private study and tutorials and in real life. Much of our time in these events could have been so much better utilised. That is difficult realisation.
We have no ability to go back in time, it is only the future we can influence. Small steps in the nature of presentation bring about dramatic changes. The journey to that new place of learning and teaching has been arduous and challenging but stepping off the bottom rung onto the new world has boundless possibilities. Leave the past behind and take the small step.