There is no problem with this, and this idea extends across many different facets of life, but a dangerous concept has been created in which every presenter is compared to the current ‘trend’ in public, or not so public presentations; after all, nothing remains private very long these days. Whilst it is always useful to conduct a compare and contrast exercise to see how you stack up against other notable presenters, it may also be a fool’s errand to try and spend your time imitating these individuals. Whenever you please one section of your audience, you may alienate another, although neither of these outcomes can be guaranteed!
A crucial idea in my way of thinking with regards to presentations centers on the audience. Too many presenters take to the stage trying to build their own ego and fan the flames of self importance. The real reason you should be standing in front of whoever has deemed their time worthy is, of course, your audience. Far too much time these days is centered on how individuals can make their presentations ‘better’, in whatever way is best (or often, to the detriment of everybody, the easiest), and not nearly enough importance is attached to the idea that you are trying to impart wisdom, ideas, guidance, advice, or maybe even comfort, to the audience who are sat patiently listening to you.
And so begins a journey, with the aim of looking at how and why we present and what we are aiming to achieve, not with the objective of benefitting ourselves as individuals and leaving marks on our backs from the heavy patting, but to see how we can benefit the audience, providing them with key information they can take away and digest in readiness to apply to their own individual circumstance. This is not an easy goal to fulfill (we can’t please all of the people all of the time!), but it is certainly one worthy of striving towards.
The idea of this series is to impart set of viewpoints on preparing for a presentation, with one eye fixed firmly on providing your audience with essential ideas that are usable. This is not just an idea of the way you or I may do it, but an analysis of five key components that should be at the forefront of every presenters preparation for a speaking engagement; who, why, when, where, and what. On the surface these are simple concepts that almost everybody will be familiar with, but I hope to provide some additional thinking on how these might be used to better prepare you to benefit your audience, and how these critical components can link together to make your best presentation.
Remember, it doesn't have to be ‘the best’ presentation anybody has ever seen; but the audience expect you to adequately prepare so that you can give your best presentation to and for them, and not the best presentation for yourself.
This is the first post in a weekly series looking at some ideas around presenting and preparation. All thoughts are the personal views of the author. Follow me on Twitter @s_gibbins