Version 1 is never the best

Version 1 of your presentation is never the best version. Most presenters, given the opportunity to revisit a presentation for another audience, make changes and deliver an improved version 2. Yet few make similar changes to version 1 before its delivery. This is a missed opportunity. Version 1 is never the best.

The construction of a presentation goes through many stages. The #htdap offers various approaches and each suggests significant numbers of review and edit stages. The initial idea for a presentation, the understanding of audience needs, construction of the arc of the story and storyboard give structure to a presentation. It is then illustrated and (hopefully) practised numerous times before delivery. The opportunities for change are significant if the presenter is wise to the possibility. The number of changes made to p2 in the last few hours show the desire for improvement. Version 1 is never the best.

Most presentations change little between conception and delivery. The reasons are probably complex but likely to include time, practise and reflection. The advice of 5 minutes preparation time per audience member is a rough metric. Important meetings need more preparation time. The use of that time in each of the sections should be balanced. It seldom is. Practise suffers major compression in planning and it is frequently within good practise that helpful edits become apparent. This is emphasised by changes that become clear after delivery. Reflection too takes time and whether this is simply away from the laptop or with a helpful colleague, it should be remembered that most films are hugely improved by editing, not repetition. Version 1 is never the best.

version 1 For the next presentation to be delivered, even if it is in two weeks, make a particular effort to set time aside to practise real delivery (without a script), reflect on the result and look for opportunities to improve further. This may be minor links, shifting a slide or completely re-thinking the ending. Don’t be afraid to change, the improvement will ensure that the version delivered on the day is not the first but the best.


  1. Pingback: Version 1 is never the best – Global Intensive Care

  2. Kate Jurd

    Thanks Ross for this reminder to practice, revisit and reflect on the first version of your presentation. I delivered a presentation this week for our Hospital Grand Rounds, which is open to all staff and all streams (Medical, Allied Health, Nursing and Admin). The title of my talk: “Using Social Media for Learning, Professional Development and Networking”. In my preparation I was wary that I needed to ensure the talk was fairly generic to address the needs of a diverse group. I illustrated the story (P1) with my own journey using social media to learn, share, collaborate, and explain how, over time my personal learning network had grown from a small local group of known colleagues to an online global community. My perspective was that of an ‘educator’ being able to utilise social media tools and platforms to find information (personal learning) and to educate others (sharing knowledge/ teaching). So I hoped this approach would provide a broader application and be relevant to participants from all fields.
    I did two practice runs before the presentation and found that some of the slides P2 (the visual examples) didnt really fit in with the flow of the story, so were removed and other slides worked better towards the end of the presentation. I was also able to make more adjustments in the second practice run and deleted 3 or 4 slides where I seemed to continually stumble over the words in an attempt to get the message across. I also found, to my horror, that my P3 included lots of ‘ums’ which I had never noticed before. This may be a challenge to fix before the presentation, but at least I am now aware of it.
    Immediately prior to delivering the talk, I realised that 96% of attendees that had come to grand rounds this week, were doctors, and my ‘generic’ presentation may not be as relevant to their context as to the broader hospital community. It was a little unsettling, but too late to make any changes.
    Having now reflected on the presentation, firstly I should have checked the audience profile of a grand rounds event. Secondly to improve this version for future deliveries, I believe it can be easily adapted for a medical audience by including additional medical examples and illustrating how these can be incorporated into a busy clinical workload.
    Additionally, I asked a colleague before the talk to take note of the ‘ums’ in my talk. She said that I used the occasional um, but it wasn’t distracting. Which was reassuring.

  3. ffolliet (Post author)

    Well done Kate and thank you for sharing. It is a journey.


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