Have you ever just wished that the speaker would shut up or get a move on so that the meeting can progress or you can get to your next task? Sometimes it would seem that business presentations simply suck up time, energy and the will to live without necessarily giving back anything in return. How many hours have been wasted and used ineffectively through ill-conceived, poorly prepared and badly delivered presentations? Really – just to add up the cost of this is scary. Imagine there are eight people in a meeting and there is just one ineffective presentation of half an hour.. That is eight times half an hour ie four hours of time wasted. At an average hourly rate of £15 that is a cost of £60 for just half an hour. With nothing in return. And of course the chances are there are more people in the room, often managers at a higher than average hourly rate making the cost even more. And that is not counting the lost productivity of those people while they are attending the presentation or meeting. And just to rub salt in the wound, there is probably more than one presentation taking place.
So what is the answer? Well despite my rants above, I do think that presentations can add real value, done well and done at the right time to the right people. That time and cost can be worth it if the action taken as a result of the presentation pays back dividends. So what needs to happen?
* Presentations only to be given when necessary. Do we really need all the progress reports to be in the format of a verbal presentation? If it is updates rather than interpretation, information rather than action, facts rather than recommendations, then I really believe we should question the need for some one to have to spend the time preparing an oral delivery rather than a written report.(the reality is that people tend to deliver a written report orally anyway which is a disaster in terms of engagement and usefulness)
* Presentations to be focused on interpretation, recommendation, clear action, point of view, or discussion generation. Anything else can go in a written report. This means that presentation format is being used for its true effective purpose – to persuade, move and motivate by having that ‘face to face ‘ contact.
* Presentations to be used where group response and dynamics are essential to the outcome of the presentation. What I mean by this is is that sometimes you need a group response to carry an idea into action. Or you can benefit from group dynamics to motivate and influence ie often a sales pitch is successful to a group because it is perceived as low pressure and people are hugely influenced by the response of others.(social proof)
* Presentations to be used where it offers leveraging of time and where it is important that many people hear the same message. Let’s take leveraging time first. If you are going to be saying similar things to lots of different people then it makes sense to get them all together in the same room and speak to them as a group. Otherwise you are destined to speak to each one by one. A long process. I mentioned people hearing the same thing. Of course that sounds perfectly reasonable but we all,know that even if people all attended the same presentation, they all ‘hear’ something slightly differently. So it is not all fool proof.
Here is your challenge. Do an audit on recent presentations you have attended. Did they need to be communicated as a presentation? And if so, how well did they achieve their outcome?
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