Failed Presentation Meets Fashion Faux Pas

Monday, August 5th, 2013 by Simon Morton

Last week we marvelled at the Human brains ability to make sense of nonsense.

Which is great, right, your audience can do some of the work for you, they can understand gobbledygook so there’s no need to make sure that your content is correct or engaging, they’ll fill in the blanks themselves. All you need to do is make sure that your presentation looks fantastic and you’re onto a winner.

Wrong.

On the wrongness scale this sits alongside wearing socks with sandals, an odd simile I admit, but please bear with….

When we see someone wearing socks and sandals we feel the wrongness but we don’t like to point it out, we may hold a sneaking suspicion that it might be somehow trendy or cutting edge in a way we just don’t get, and maybe they are doing the world a favour by concealing some hideous foot fungus (which is a kindness we should all appreciate).

A beautiful presentation with a weak narrative has a similar effect. No-one has suffered unduly, some have become distracted or suspicious and nothing has been achieved.

Presentations that choose style over substance fail because style is subjective – it does not communicate to everyone in the same way.

Prezi is a case in point, its ability to pan and zoom like a sci-fi blockbuster is brilliant if it’s used intelligently. Discriminate use is not only detrimental to effective communication, there’s a very real risk of nausea. Yet there are people (roller coaster enthusiasts and base jumpers for example) who can’t get enough of it.

Ignoring content is a two pronged fork waiting quietly to be stepped on, and it cares nought for any protection provided by the combination of socks and sandals.

Firstly there is the content of your presentation, the stuff that actually fills your slides, and then there is the content of your delivery, not just the words but also the tools you use to get your message across.

Two problems with two simple solutions – Presentation Optimisation and Blended Presenting as long as you get these two things right you can wear whatever you like….

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