A friend told me of a story heard as a small child about a little girl walking on the beach with her father. They discovered hundreds of starfish washed up beyond the tide. It appeared the starfish couldn’t make it back to the water. The little girl set about picking up starfishes and gently returning them beyond the tide. Her father looked on fondly but pointed out both the huge number of starfish on the beach and the fact that the tide appeared to be washing even more onto the beach. He suggested her task was futile. The little girl purposefully picked up another starfish and put it back in the water. “I made a difference for that starfish.“

Many people are sharing ideas on improving presentations, being the example of change and teaching. There is encouragement and hope. There are also days when the task feels futile; at times all I see is the starfish on the beach.

We cannot deny that virtually every presentation we see is full of text and complex diagrams, simply read out to the audience by a presenter focussing on the screen rather than engaging the uncaring audience. They have learnt through copying. They over run because no-one practises and neither presenter nor audience appears to care. Worse, the achievements are applauded. Presenters aspire to this, are taught this and are required to do this. The force of the waves is huge.

The tide will eventually turn and we influence that. Bad examples are actually evidence of the possibility of change. Until then I’m going to help one starfish at a time. Help me?

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