August 27; Will The Presenter’s Words Remain With The Audience Out the Door? MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK: 365 Daily Bible Verse & One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful
Chapter Eight: Communication; 27 August
For my part,
even though I am not physically present,
I am with you in spirit…
1 Corinthians 5:3a
|Will The Presenter’s Words Remain With The Audience Out the Door?|
The presentation was mind-numbing, boring and long. The speaker took so long and the PowerPoints were so dense because the speaker had so little to say. Some in the audience nodded off. I know. I was there.
I was the speaker.
Your Business Professor had 50 minutes of allotted time for 12 minutes of content. Or maybe the numbers were reversed. Either way made for a painful experience for the listener.
As a novice speaker I feared Albert Einstein’s admonition, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I included any and every jot and tittle. I didn’t have the time or the wisdom or the experience of knowing what could be safely deleted and the message still delivered. I thought if I vomited enough volume I would lurch into the perfect memorable presentation.
I wasn’t smart enough to deliver a short speech.
The purpose of a presentation is for recallable content. Andrew Abela, Ph.D., the Dean of the School of Business and Economics at the Catholic University of America, writes, “Your objectives should be about how your audience will change as a result of your presentation: how they will think and act differently after they leave the room.” (Andrew Abela 2008) p 5. Our goal should be as English poet W. H. Auden says, “A professor is one who speaks in someone else’s sleep.”
I would only understand later what the French aristocrat writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry* wrote, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Or as Coco Chanel would say, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory” (Lindig 2014)
The military would like this minimalism, so much that they call presentations, ‘briefings.’
The Army uses four types of briefings,
- The information briefing is to inform the listener. [No recommendations]
- The decision briefing is designed to obtain an answer or decision. [Recommendations]
- The mission briefing is designed to review important details or give specific instructions.
- The staff briefing is designed to secure a coordination or unified effort and to exchange information. (Army 1971)
The incoming data overload often mentioned as “Death by PowerPoint” is physically and intuitively ineffective. But let us not blame a software solution. It is possible for the manager to deliver a lot of content that will be remembered in a few visual aids. Forget the 50-plus deck; use less than 10 slides. Or fewer.
Investor Brad Feld notes that the best Board of Directors meetings are where,
The CEO then puts up one slide with the issues he’d like to discuss. These are bullet points that are crisp yet detailed enough to know what the issue is. This is then the bulk of the meeting.
Some CEOs are capable of running a 2+ hour discussion off of one slide (I love these guys). (Feld 2009)
A single-slide presentation? With a few bullets? Your audience will love you too. I wish I had known this years ago.
For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit…1 Corinthians 5:3a
*Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote The Little Prince, the most famous book in French literature. And he flew P-38 Lightings for the Allies in WWII. Saint-Exupéry was shot down and killed probably by a German flying a Messerschmitt near Corsica in 1944. (BBC 2008)