A presentation containing Tour de France winner Floyd Landis’ defense against doping charges was posted on his website this morning. The presentation is a very good example of what I call the reality principle: whenever possible, show the real thing in your presentation. We live in a very skeptical age; people are not inclined to believe everything that is presented to them. One way to overcome this is to show, as much as possible, specific data points, photographs, and scanned images of real things.
In Landis’ case, 12 out of 26 slides contain images of actual lab forms, lab reports, screen shots, printouts, labels of test samples, and the actual letter that Landis received from the Anti-Doping Review Panel. In each case, the errors are highlighted with a red circle. The point is that the viewer does not have to take Landis’ word for it, we can see the evidence right there.
There are a number of ways in which the presentation could be improved, although to determine this properly we would need to know what Landis’ objective for the presentation is, and who his target audience is intended to be. For example, for a general audience, the language seems to be a little too scientific.
Regardless of audience or objective, though, one significant improvement would be to add a case example of something like this that has happened before. After watching the presention, the viewer could be left wondering how frequently such errors occur, and whether they are significant. What would clinch the deal is to show an example of someone else who had been similarly charged based on such apparently faulty evidence, and ultimately aquitted. The presentation is then in effect saying “See, that’s the case with us too.”