data spreadsheet

Project updates. Quarterly financials. Resource justification. These are a few of the many reasons we make presentations, and while common these aren’t very exciting to deliver and typically not much of a thrill to witness. And preparing for these presentations is such a chore! The whole process is cumbersome, sometimes boring, and often a stressful interruption of your “real” work.

Or is it?

Let’s start with the premise that presenting is a privilege, a marvelous idea gifted to me by my friend and colleague Simon Morton. I love this concept!  According to the dictionary, a privilege is “a special right or advantage granted to a particular person or group of people.” Read that again, please. What makes presenting “a special right” is they (whoever your audience is) chose you to give this presentation. They didn’t choose someone else, and more importantly, they didn’t choose to have you state your business in a report or email. You have been granted the right to be a part of a live exchange of energy and ideas — and this is exciting no matter how mundane you think the topic is!

Why does this matter? Time. When we substitute data for insight we waste time, a precious limited resource that even the richest man can’t buy more of.

The 3 biggest presentation time wasters are:

  • Unfocused or irrelevant content delivered without insight, enlightenment or energy
  • Info-packed slides that took countless hours to prepare but actually say nothing
  • Messaging that tells us what to do but not why we should care enough to give 100% effort

If these were driving infractions, you’d lose your license! Should we revoke people’s presentation privileges?

Here are 3 things you can do to earn or maintain your right to present:

  1. Change your mindset from “this is a chore” to “this is a privilege” and think carefully about how you want to maximize your impact.
  2. Start your prep with your audience in mind: What do they care the most about, and why? How do you want them to feel at the end of your presentation? What do you want them to do? Collect and organize your content after you’ve answered these questions for yourself.
  3. Choose people over PowerPoint. Presentations are never about “the deck.” They are always about the exchange of ideas. Remember, if someone thought the idea was important enough to bring people together, even on a conference call, then it’s about the people and what these people can accomplish together.

Finally, remember that the privilege to present comes with advantages, too. It is your moment to shine, to add value, and to further your brand.

What do you think? Is presenting a privilege? Submit your comment below to add your 2-cent’s worth.