Guest Blog – 2 Cool 4 Skool or Old School..?

Friday, April 19th, 2013 by Simon Morton

Blogs are a marvellous way of getting things off your chest.

I’ve personally used the blog to highlight the importance of respecting your audience, frustration at tech myopia and the power of pies (or to be completely clear, pie charts).

In a similar vein, guest blogger Eamonn Wilcox ponders the latest (and worrying) presentation craze of art over substance.

As my new on-line hero Conor Neill, says the best way to grab someone’s attention is to tell a story.

As soon, as we hear the words ‘once upon a time’ we listen to what comes next. Excellent stories engage, entertain and enlighten, but the best ones are always, always about people. Presentations should do this too; it’s the relationship between the audience, the speaker and the material that makes the good ones great.

We can now make slides almost instantly and ‘for free’. Producing presentations has become so simple, bosses don’t even give them to the PA to do, let alone hire someone in. However to paraphrase Ruskin:

“There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and quicker, and the people who consider ease alone are that person’s lawful prey.”

Just because everyone can now make trendy slideshows, just like poetry slamming, baking or karaoke, it doesn’t mean they should.

The truth is that most businesses are still run by folks who appreciate language, structure, spelling, rigor, relevance,research and respect. When Marshall McLuhan said “the medium is the message” I don’t think he could have seen how far down that darkening path we would go.

They say don’t shoot the messenger, but sometimes the ‘medium-er’ has it coming.

Considering what a presentation’s for is always more important than which cute images were used or how it looks on facetwitterblogged-in. “Totally awesome” presentations about how to make this “totally awesome” presentation and what makes it “totally awesome”, are totally awful. It’s just online onanism.

The pervasive perky pastels and peppy pictures popping up in packs produced by purported professionals probably prohibit presentations appearing appropriate, practical, practicable, pertinent or persuasive. (Whew!)

You could say that the new gurus are giving their clients what they ask for, or that the garish graphics distract from the blinding flashes of the obvious, and that charm or charisma compensate for the lack of content. However, it’s dangerous to put cutting edge cool in the hands of the clueless, credulous and the convinced.

It really doesn’t matter if you’re old school or too cool for school, there are no extra marks for double underlining the title in red, adding stickers, putting it in a binder and we don’t need to see the all the workings in the margin.

You still need to

  • Do your homework,
  • Understand the assignment and
  • Answer the question.

Now, please turn over your papers.

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