September 22, 2009

Is your presentation bad or just ineffective?

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There's a difference between a bad presentation and an ineffective one. A lot of people give ineffective presentations; most are not actually "bad."

Here's what I consider ineffective:

The content is interesting, but the speaker is dull.

The speaker is interesting, but the content is disorganized.

The speaker's content and delivery are acceptable, but the slides are overloaded with detail and impossible to read.

The speaker hasn't researched the audience, so the content isn't a good fit.

The speaker isn't well prepared, so the presentation rambles.

Do you see what I'm getting at? An ineffective presentation has elements of an effective presentation, but the speaker sabotages herself by not fully preparing or not fully committing to a successful outcome.

A "bad" presentation is actually pretty difficult to pull off. There have to be many elements of ineffective presentations all at once: monotone speaker, text-heavy slides, disorganization, inappropriate content, etc.

Is it better to be "off" in just one area than in every area? Of course! However, a bad presentation is at least memorable for how bad it was. An ineffective presentation just doesn't make an impact at all.

So if you're concerned about giving a bad presentation, you can relax a little. It's not as easy as you think. An ineffective presentation is much easier to put together, much more common than a bad presentation, and much more forgettable.

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