What is wrong with presentations?


What is wrong with presentations? Presentations as they are currently delivered, fail. There is little debate on the matter. Empirical research in communication suffers from many confounding factors and becomes almost impossible to generalise. Reflection highlights, embarrassingly, the fact though that the majority of presentations fail. And yet we continue.

what is wrong with presentations

If one were to list what is wrong with presentations the majority of respondents will very quickly detail multiple factors in the nature of the message, its illustration and delivery. Asking the same respondents to identify the factors in an effective presentation and they will desire clarity of message, simplicity of supportive media and an engaging delivery. Yet, in possession of such aspiration the majority of those surveyed, if asked to deliver a presentation, would do the obverse. We recognise what is wrong with presentations, we desire improvement and yet, when we deliver them we follow the practises of failure despite effort and care.

The reasons for this perversity are enmeshed in conformity to perceived standards, aspiration to the level of mediocrity displayed, “education”, defensive practises against performance anxiety, time pressures, a lack of value in the output and ultimately lack of of alternative approaches. Yet few are comfortable when confronted with the facts of this failure of presentations. It generates aggression and anger that criticism might be implied, that teaching may not have been as effective, that communication has failed. If that passion could be converted into creation, reflection and development how might the world change? Presentations as they are currently delivered by the vast majority simply do not work. That is what is wrong with presentations.

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