November 22, 2013

Do you really need to give a presentation?

I have quite a few clients who come to me with presentations that are completely encased in PowerPoint. That is, everything that needs to be said is delineated on the slides, either in bullets, graphs or actual word-for-word paragraphs.

Frequently, these clients are themselves perplexed about why a meeting or presentation is necessary, when all they're doing is reporting numbers or giving updates that could easily be e-mailed in a brief report. Especially when a presentation is delivered by webinar to people spread around in distant offices and there's no live gathering of people in the same room: Could the same goals be achieved by delivering material another way?

Maybe they don't have a choice, but do you?

Are you the one calling an information-transfer meeting concerning data that could easily be e-mailed to others in a document?

Here are some questions to ask when you're considering scheduling a live presentation:

1. Is there a human element necessary to give context to the numbers on the slides? Are there stories or analysis behind the data that a person needs to speak about that can't be otherwise written in a report?

2. Is there a purpose to the meeting beyond the mere transfer of information, like brainstorming or group decision-making that will be based on the data in the slides?

3. Are there objectives and action items that will be addressed? Are there specific results that are expected to come from the meeting?

4. Is there a persuasive element to the presentation where a live speaker is necessary to convince and convey the importance of the material to the group?

If you answer "no" to all of these questions, then please send your material by e-mail, and don't waste your group's time making them sit and listen to a speaker who is simply repeating the information on slides that the audience is looking at on a monitor -- or worse -- already holding in printouts.

If your group can look at the material on their own, at their convenience, and respond in an appropriate time frame to the necessary colleagues, isn't this a better use of everyone's time?

Share your additions to this list in the comments: When is a live presentation necessary to deliver data?

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