Recycle plastic, not presentations
When you’re asked to prepare a presentation, what’s the first thing you do?
More often than not, your answer will be either “Panic” or “Open up an old presentation deck and figure out which slides I can use.” Others manage their panic while searching for slides they can reuse.
If we recycled plastic water bottles at the rate that we did our slides, fish and bird populations throughout the world would thrive.
I’ll address the “panic” part in a separate post. Today I’d like to suggest that we put an end to Corporate America’s biggest recycling program: re-purposing old slides. When we start recycling slides we start down a long and arduous path of editing decks and emailing versions back and forth with our colleagues.
For all that work we put into the presentation deck, we have very little to show. We’re surprised when we didn’t captivate the room, or that we didn’t get what we needed from our meeting. In many cases we don’t get through the deck, or the client ignores it entirely.
Why does this happen? It turns out that if we’re making our presentation about the audience and the exchange we’d like to have in a meeting, old slides probably won’t work.
We want to create relevant conversations instead of designing and organizing slides. Imagine if we put our time and resources towards collaborating with our colleagues or event organizer about how to intersect our goals with those of our audience? You can get more from your colleagues in a conversation than you can in a series of email exchanges about reordering slides.
You might end up using a slide or two from an earlier presentation, but the process is much more effective if you know what you want to convey first. We’re letting the availability of slides dictate our process. We might find that we don’t even need a deck at all.
Stop the slide recycling madness.
Pick up the phone, get on Skype or walk down the hall and have a conversation about how to select the most important points for your audience at this moment in time. In our workshops we recommend having the presentation 80% complete before turning on your computer and opening a presentation file. Think of the energy you’re conserving while also creating a better presentation.
Side note: This blog post was inspired by an exchange earlier this morning. I ran into a friend from college in D.C. After catching up on respective family news, he mentioned that he had to completely redo a PPT deck because of an overnight policy change. He laughed because he knew his client didn’t need a deck, they needed an explanation as to what the policy change meant for their business.
How difficult would it be to stop this habit?