We had a fascinating conversation with a workshop participant last week. He shared a real story, about a presentation he gave soon after he joined his current company. He worked hard at it, he prepared, and he was nervous, but ready. He made the presentation, it seemed to go OK, and then afterwards he asked for feedback.
He pulled aside one of his new colleagues, a mentor of sorts, and asked, “How did it go?” He was hoping for and expecting to hear feedback on substance. But instead, what he got was, “You used the wrong shade of blue on your slides.”
Seriously… that was the sole feedback. You used the wrong blue. Not a thing about substance, about the proposal, about the data. Only about the color blue.
This story would be comical if it were not true and all too common. We hear it all the time, from many of our client companies.
So the point today is simple… If there is a template that you are expected to use, follow it, strictly and religiously. Otherwise, you risk a reaction from the more “detail oriented” members of your audience to get distracted by the wrong things. Honestly, there are people out there, lots of them, who live for the moment when they can nitpick some little detail on your slides, some little mistake. So let’s not give those people anything to chirp at.
The bottom line is that slides represent a major risk for the speaker, a topic we have written about before.
Have a great day.
I loved this story. It proves that which I tell my clients and students: sweat the details because they matter. You can be perfectly attired but have one thing out of place and that one discordant note is what people will notice! This applies also when applying for a sought-after position; it’s not always the most qualified candidate that wins, it’s the one who makes the fewest mistakes in the eyes of the interviewers. It’s sort of like the Olympics, the champion makes a small mistake that lowers her score or causes her to take a tumble and number two zips past her and takes the Gold!
Thanks, Jeanne… Great point!