I Hate Presentations
By Hayley Mallet
I don’t particularly mind presenting, I certainly don’t hate it, so it’s curious that I chose to review this book. The reason I did is that I’m fairly confident I could prepare for presentations in a more efficient way- and they always seem to go right to the wire. Really, I picked up the book to see if there was a way to streamline my approach to the preparation part and ultimately deliver presentations in the most natural and relaxed way as a result.
The author starts by running over the basic of a good presentation, these are obvious and universal. A good presentation:
- Captures interest
- Is relevant to the audience
- Is as concise as possible, whilst still fulfilling its objectives
If it was easy to create presentations like this though, then many of us wouldn’t have been subjected to ‘death by PowerPoint’ as we surely have. Caplin’s theory is that most presentations are too long because the authors approach them with the ‘school essay technique’ which is something like: think about the title; research a bit; write; deliver. This tends to result in an overly-long presentation that doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of the audience and is usually tedious to boot. Caplin suggests scrapping this approach altogether.
Instead, he has developed the ‘GOER®’ method which breaks down the presentation process into ‘Goal’, ‘Outline’, ‘Elaborate’ and ‘Refine’ and encourages the author to start with a bit of audience research- i.e. calling your audience or someone representative of that audience before starting any work at all. Finding out what they want to get from the presentation, he says, is key to getting the right end result. I think this is great idea and it’s something we try to do at ORCHID as part of our general approach, so it makes sense. I don’t always do it with presentations to a new audience, and it’s something I will try to incorporate from now on. The rest of the process is really about putting a lot of time in to sorting out objectives and topics before any actual writing takes place, with the idea being that the end result will actually be a fairly short, but spot-on presentation that meets its objectives without waffle.
Most refreshing of all, Caplin advocates using as little actual PowerPoint as possible, just having it for technical information or anything that benefits from being displayed graphically. Also, never having more text on a PowerPoint than you would put on a slogan t-shirt. Quite a change to the standard approach then.
There are also some good general hints and tips. Caplin is keen to point out that presenters shouldn’t worry about being good public speakers. They are presenting to a ‘warm’ audience who want information, not entertainment.
In general, it’s a refreshing read, with a distinct lack of footnotes and an approachable tone. It’s most helpful to use it whilst actually preparing a presentation, and for the first one you’ll probably need a bit more time than usual, but at least the end result should be a genuinely interesting one. Time will tell, but he may have changed my approach to presentations forever.
"Are you confident that you know what you want to achieve with your next presentation? Do you know for sure what your audience wants from it? Are you absolutely certain your presentation will deliver – both for you, and your audience?
In this practical book you will discover a completely new way to prepare yourself for a presentation. Packed with real life examples and case studies, at times laugh out loud, it will show you how to do presentations that deliver, for you, your audiences, your team, your business.
Surprise everyone, perhaps especially yourself, by becoming an excellent and relaxed presenter."