Saturday, June 29, 2013

Do You Think We Can't Read ?

In a recent meeting I was attending, the facilitator demonstrated a severe lack of understanding about presentation etiquette.  Not only did she read ALL the words and information on a slide we were looking at ... but she went on to explain what it all meant.  This may not seem like a major faux pas but it was actually a basic bar graph that any 2nd grader could have understood.

I was taught, long ago, that your powerpoint presentation should provide slides and information that your audience can look at while you're speaking.  The material should support your narration, but the worst things you can do are to put too many words on the slide ... or ... actually read the information on the slide to your audience.  This is Presentation Basics 101.

My real question is ... how did this person get to their senior level position without this basic skill?  Although not always the case, it stands to reason that the higher up the ladder you go, the more likely that you will be doing presentations to large groups.  So in addition to your technical or project knowledge and experience, you would need (at some point presumably) to become better versed in disseminating information to peers or direct reports through presentations.  This might not be a deal breaker in hiring interview, but it seems like it would be a high priority on the "learn how to do this" lists.

So please, if you can, avoid reading or explaining basic details on slides in your presentations.  May I suggest an alternative?  Post the slide.  Be silent for about 30 seconds.  Then ask if anyone has any questions about the material contained therein.  If no one does, just move on.  And consider the lack of questions a testament to your amazing slide creation skills, for you have just conveyed information without even having to talk!

Song Of The Day:
A brilliant lyricist, Jason Mraz came to mind while I sat bored out of my mind during this portion of the meeting.  His song "Did You Get My Message?" was running through my head.  Listen to the words and you can see why I was envisioning the facilitator asking herself this unnecessary question.


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