Saturday, January 14, 2006

Preparation and presentation

Most of us have to present information in front of groups. Some sweat at the prospect and walk to the front of the room grasping notecards from which they read. Others have massive decks of slides from which they read to a nodding audience in a darkened room. Some do dry runs of their presentations, while others claim that only robs them of their spontaneity. (I find it interesting that one very good presenter I know who claims never to rehearse is always rehearsing; anytime you encounter him, he's explaining material he's passionate about and discovering better ways of communicating it.)

In the coaching of presenters and the moderating of presentations that I've done, I've noticed a distinct correlation between the amount of preparation and rehearsing a presenter does and the perceived effectiveness of the message. It's especially dramatic to hear a speaker do a dry, lifeless dress rehearsal, later to have them deliver perhaps the best presentation of an event, and to discover they had been rehearsing like crazy in the interim.

If you don't think rehearsing is worth your time and effort, consider Steve Jobs. His keynote speeches at Macworld garner world-wide attention. Mike Evangelist describes how Jobs prepares in Behind the magic curtain.


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