People often remark the best presentation they remember was when the presenter arrived and the p2 failed before delivery. “The best presentation” is of course a compliment and it means that the p cubed value was significant, that there was a clear and remembered message and that the delivery was engaging. The supportive media was not missed and conversely, its absence improved the overall value. This bears some investigation beyond the obvious.
When a presenter’s media fails and yet an excellent presentation is delivered it shows that the message exists beyond the supportive media and that delivery is not dependent upon this. It should be obvious to devotees of this site that the message is not simply the slide set. Sadly, this is not universally understood and the majority of presenters would be unable to deliver without their media. The ability of a presenter to ride this shock is not a gift but evidence of deep knowledge of the topic, excellent preparation and a high quality presenter. This is within the compass of all who give presentations; preparation is the key to success here.
Beyond this preparation however, the success of a presenter in this situation points beyond them and, I believe, to the deleterious effects of presentations as they are currently prepared and delivered. In this unplanned situation the presentation delivered is often significantly different to that planned by the presenter. The structure supporting the message that is delivered is more spontaneous but also better linked as the artificiality of slides changes and a textual construction gives way to rational thought, the influence and response of the audience and free thinking. The delivery is clearly spontaneous and engaging. The audience also will value the extended effort in delivering such a piece. Thus a better presentation.
Should then all presenters simply turn up on the day without slides and give off the cuff presentations? No. The background knowledge of the topic, the preparation of the piece and its practise as well as the speaker’s confidence is what enables such a presentation to be delivered and considered the best that the audience remember. In planning a presentation these insights should guide the presenter to deliver a better structured message that flows with speech not the written word, media that supports that message and a delivery that is as engaging and natural as possible. This is what audiences view as the best presentation they will receive.