I know it’s a compliment but it is also a slight sadness when people comment that they are anxious about presenting because “ffolliet is in the audience”. I’m humbled to be a touchstone for presentations for some but it does not make me feel good that my presence alone might impair delivery. I appreciate their responses revolve around embarrassment in front of a mentor, that they feel their presentation may be of lesser quality and mostly that I would be critical. I’m hoping I can change that.
Performance in front of a mentor is always a challenge: I have delivered twice for my Sensei Garr Reynolds and can understand the emotional charge. There is a different tension when performing for an audience that includes those we look up to. This is not always generated by the teacher’s behaviour, merely their presence. A mentor recognises that skills are more about the journey than the destination and that we are all at difference places in that journey. Please don’t be put off simply because ffolliet in the audience it’s always a joy to see how people are developing..
There is a truth, humbling and encouraging for me, that I am in the audience of many presentations around the world by virtue of the thoughts and encouragement of this site. The mission has always been encouragement, to share and discuss techniques of presentation construction, practise and delivery. It is not as criticism. Some feel presentation may be “too important”, “academic” or “too serious” to use this approach which of course is their freely held opinion. Perhaps then I am in the audience as a conscience? This is not just about style or fashion but based in science and evidence both published and personal.
Lastly I would hope to be the audience as the encouragement and the proud mentor as many have suggested. I am amazed and humbled when I meet folk I have never interacted with who tell me that from the encouragement on this site and the example displayed by so many friends and colleagues that I have gone from being just a bloke growling about presentations to a stimulus towards change and improvement. I could not have a greater privilege. Maybe I am in the audience or maybe it’s just @ffolliet.