How To Join The Presentation Revolution


Ever since I met Chiara Ojeda and sat in on a few minutes of her Professional Communication and Presentation class, I’ve been a steadfast member of the presentation revolution.  People who’ve guided me on my mission to change presentations from awful to engaging include Garr Reynolds, Nancy Duarte, Phil Waknell, Ethos3, Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes, Seth Godin, Chip and Dan Heath, Julie Dirksen, John Medina, a half dozen Slideshare superstars, and the entire TED website/organization.

So what, exactly, is the “presentation revolution?”  The best way to begin to describe it is to explain Jim Endicott’s three-legged stool metaphor:

Consider each of the legs of the presentation “stool.”  Each must be strong in order for the presentation to resonate with others.  You can also check out Nancy Duarte’s three-part “presentation ecosystem” based upon Endicott’s stool.

The presentation revolution requires us to concentrate on developing strong, solid content.  Most people don’t have a problem embracing this; content is important.  When it comes to content, my students don’t even blink when I tell them their content should be well-organized and audience-centered.  However, when I explain how much time they should put into this brainstorming/audience analysis/organization phase, I do get some pushback.  This is probably because the typical presenter spends very little time revising, changing, and developing content once a first draft has been completed.  The presentation revolution requires us to spend more time, effort, and planning when it comes to our speech content.

People often ignore presentation delivery because they feel you’re either good at delivery or you’re not.  You’re either born with it or you’re not.  You’re charismatic or you’re not.  Garr Reynolds’ The Naked Presenter changed my perspective on delivery.  It’s a must-read if you’re interested in joining the presentation revolution.  The text is about seeing delivery as connection with an audience as opposed to being perfect.  Effective delivery does lead to charisma in front of an audience, and it’s something we can learn. Do some people learn it more quickly than others? Certainly! But is is a quality we can all grow to possess. We must approach delivery with a growth as opposed to a fixed mindset if we ever hope to join the presentation revolution.

When it comes time to study design concepts to improve visual presentation, most people resist this drastic change from the start.  People embrace and agree that presentations are broken, but they have a tough time understanding WHY we shouldn’t use the death-by-bulletpoint method.  Teachers and educators don’t understand visual presentation AT ALL; most outright refuse to embrace effective design because it’s so different from the template and clip art rut they are stuck in.  Whether it’s a student or a fellow teacher, I hear the same protests against visual presentation; these protests are grounded in habit and history.  In order to use visuals effectively, one must know the purpose of those visuals as well as how people learn.

Creating Communication has a brand new section to help us navigate this new world of content, delivery, and visual presentation together!  If you’re new to the presentation revolution, this section is essential.  Learn more by clicking here.  You can also find the “Join The Presentation Revolution!” link at the very tip top of the page.


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