August 13, 2009

Thinking through the details

TV Guide: The glove, the white socks, the red leather jacket - who came up with those things?

Michael Jackson: The glove was just - I thought one was cooler than two. I love to accent movement. The eye goes to where the white is - you know, the glove. And the feet, if you're dancing, you can put an exclamation point on your movement if it has a bit of light on it. So I wore the white socks. And for the design of the jacket, I would sit with the people who made the clothes and tell them where I wanted a button or a buckle or a design.

Nothing Michael Jackson did in his performances was arbitrary; every step was mapped out and rehearsed in advance, every visual and sound was considered, right down to the buckle on a jacket.

This is not to say that your presentation should be over-rehearsed to the point of machine-like precision, but have you thought through the details?

Have you considered how the room looks and feels to the audience? Have you considered which props and visuals will be most effective? Have you listened for outside noise or noticed if there's a glare through the window? Have you paid attention to how sound bounces off the walls and floors and whether or not you'll need a microphone?

Preparation is not just writing your presentation, practicing it a few times, then showing up on the day to deliver it. Make sure you understand how every aspect of your presentation will affect the audience, from your words to your appearance to the room itself.

A room that's too hot or too cold will make your audience uncomfortable. Is there a post blocking people's view? Rearrange the room to make it less distracting. Are you dressed appropriately for the crowd? If not, you might alienate part of the group the minute you walk in.

Pay attention to how the audience will be affected by all aspects of the presentation.

How can you enhance your presentation and make it more successful by paying attention to the details?

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