Quick, but powerful idea for you today.
Let’s say you have a meeting coming up and you will be making a presentation. Your boss and some other senior managers will be in the room… or maybe a key potential client who you have been trying to sell for a year… or maybe you will be meeting with your entire team, to get them aligned around the new project plan. Regardless, the meeting is important. The stakes are high.
So you work hard on your preparation, you do all your due diligence, you anticipate the issues and the likely questions and objections. You have all the information you need, and you begin working on your slide deck.
Let’s pause the story for a moment, and let me ask you some redundant, perhaps ridiculous questions:
- Would you ever conduct your meeting in a clown suit? Of course not. At a minimum, it would distract the audience from listening to you. Or worse, it would ruin the meeting and hurt your credibility.
- Would you ever bring a crying baby into that meeting? Of course not. At a minimum, it would distract the audience from listening to you. Or worse, it would ruin the meeting and hurt your credibility.
- Would you ever give the presentation with background music on in the room? At a minimum, it would distract the audience from listening to you. Or worse, it would ruin the meeting and hurt your credibility.
More seriously, why would we ever do anything that get in the way of the presentation? Why would we ever make it harder for our audience to engage and listen to our presentation? Why would we distract them so much that we do possible injury to our own credibility, and reduce our chances for success?
We would never do that consciously, right?
Well, people do it every day, by the simple fact that the vast majority of slide decks are so busy, so visually overwhelming, require so much reading from the audience, that the audience has to make a choice… “am I going to listen to the speaker, or am I going to try to read these slides?”
When we put a slide deck on screen that is super busy, we are forcing our audience into a bad choice: listen or read?
An appropriate slide deck will allow the audience to BOTH listen AND absorb the visuals. The good presenter will make it easy for the audience to absorb the full experience.
Don’t distract your audience. Don’t force them to have to make that choice. Don’t create a competitive dynamic between you and your own slide deck.
Have a great day.