I probably need to apologize in advance for this rant — I’ve finally reached my breaking point.
I somehow got myself trapped in a presentation on changes to my 401k retirement program. I guess that I should start by admitting that I really can’t think of a much more boring topic to talk about in the first place even though I know that I should be really interested because, after all, it is my retirement. However, the person giving the presentation was beyond bad — they were just awful. To make matters worse, the presentation went on for over 1-1/2 hours. Well before the end I was wondering if I could sneak out the back door, but alas, it was not to be.
When I finally stumbled out of this colossal waste of time, I found myself wondering how I could avoid getting trapped in any such presentations in the future. Yes, I did for just a minute dream of a world in which presentation police would show up and arrest anyone who did a poor or careless job of presenting information. I was thinking that the charge would have to be something along the lines of “… intent to do bodily harm.”
Since we don’t live in that world, what do ALL presenters of complex information need to know (we’ll leave motivational speakers out of it for now)? At the end of the day I believe that there are two critical skills that all speakers must have: (1) the ability to understand and use how adults learn when constructing a speech, and (2) the ability to appeal to all types of learning methods during the same presentation.
The days of sitting in school and having a teacher talk at us are over. We get bombarded with way too much information every day. Ultimately, I believe that it’s the presenters responsibility to deliver information in a way that we can understand and remember it. So there you go, there are no presentation police, but if there were would you have an arrest record?