“You are the Presentation” – I respectfully disagree

I am in Wisconsin this week, visiting two clients, American Family Insurance and Kimberly-Clark. But the world doesn’t stop just because I am spending a few hours driving through this beautiful state. I arrived in my hotel room this evening to find that the “blogosphere” is alive with several bloggers violently agreeing with each other that You, not your PowerPoint, are the presentation: see Neville Hobson, Bert Decker, and Jeremy Jacobs.

I agree with them that you should first figure out what you want to say, before you start creating your visual aids. PowerPoint is not a good place to do your thinking. But I disagree with the conclusion that they draw from this that “you are the presentation.” I think this is an unhelpful idea: it adds more stress to the already high levels that many presenters feel, by putting so much pressure on the presenter (but not because they fear public speaking more than they fear death. Emphatically: you are not the presentation, you are just part of its delivery. Your message is the presentation. Put that in the center of all you are doing, and take the spotlight–and the pressure–off yourself.

But we may be talking at cross purposes here: their point applies more to Ballroom style presentations, while my point applies more to Conference Room style presentations–I wrote about the differences between the two in a recent article.

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