December 8, 2021

Gardening, not architecture



This is a quote from a card in the Oblique Strategies deck created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. The deck was created with a variety of prompts and constraints to help artists and musicians break through creative blocks.

This is also a great tip for anyone creating a presentation, and especially as I delivered my micro-presentations training four times on Monday and Tuesday - in a micro-presentations format - I'm going to be sharing this concept further in my trainings and coaching!

Architecture implies that you first design a structure, and then you build the structure as designed.

Gardening, however, is a process. You may design the garden in a particular way, but the garden will not always grow as you envision it.

You'll have weeds. You'll have some plants that take over and kill other plants. You'll have some plants that just don't thrive. You'll have others that thrive during part of the year, but are dormant at other times of the year. And you'll have plants that only thrive when they're pruned and trimmed.

All of these things are true of your presentation.

You can design the "perfect" presentation, down to the last detail of every slide and the exact perfect wording.

But you'll get in front of your participants and guess what: Your technology will fail. Your story will go too long. You'll lose your place. Your humor will fall flat. You'll mess up your transitions. Your participants will interrupt or take too long with their questions. You'll run out of time, leaving your best example on the cutting room floor.

Your presentation is a LIVING THING. It only comes to life when you bring it to an audience, and every time you deliver it, you're facing a new set of circumstances.

Every audience is different. Every situation is different. Sometimes you'll present hours after a school shooting. Sometimes you'll present the day after a national election. Sometimes you'll present on two hours of sleep.

This week, I delivered my micro-presentations training on one day to Canadian professional speakers and on one day to an LGBTQIA audience. And then I went back to scripting the same workshop into micro-segments for a professionally filmed course that will likely go out to corporate audiences.

Your presentation is not architecture. It's a garden, and it continues to grow, shrink, die back and thrive again with the constraints/pruning required of each new situation and audience. 



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