Have you experienced a situation that you had a lot to cover but the presentation time given was just too short? I am sure we all have. So what did you do with your millions of ideas in your mind? Did you try to include as many as possible? Or did you focus on the core? But wait, what’s the core?
When I was a full-time teacher in Hong Kong, I had a ‘fruitful’ curriculum to cover. There was no chance that I could cut it short. Why? Because everything was part of the syllabus; because they were what we believed students should learn; because… Was that true? So with the limited teaching time, what did we do? We rushed, rushed and rushed. Did students understand? Probably not the concern anymore.
Shouldn’t we focus on the learning outcome?
A week or two ago, I attended an annual meeting featuring 6 speakers in Southern California. Each of them was given around 10 minutes. Yes 10 minutes. I had quite a high expectation because all speakers were of executive level. Was I disappointed? I guess I did not have time to feel the disappointment because I was overwhelmed by the amount of information presented. And so I shut myself down.
Shouldn’t we focus on the effectiveness of the presentation?
These days, I have been helping clients to design and review presentations. It is quite an interesting thing to do. You can say it is something quite easy for me. After all, I am well-trained in education and training. And back then, being a mentor of many new teachers and trainers, reviewing their lessons and training plans/ideas was kind of a daily task for me. Most importantly, I enjoyed it so much.
No matter it is a business presentation or an educational one, I notice that I give some similar feedback. Today, I want to highlight one –
It is not about how much you want to share; it is about how much the audience can get.
Think, who determines the success of your presentation? The audience.
It is very common that when we start planning our presentation, we always want to share more. The fact is information is infinite. We can never share everything especially presentation is always bounded by time. And audience has short concentration span. The key here is whether we can impress the audience this time so that we can buy another opportunity for next time.
When we write a speech, we always start with the message; when we design a lesson, we always start with the learning outcome; when we handle a court case, we always start with the closing statement; when we plan our life project, we always start with the ending in mind…
The final outcome always determines the beginning and the process. So next time when you have to do a presentation, deliver a speech, teach a class, plan your life, etc., ask yourself, what is it that you want to achieve? What is the final outcome? Then you will know what is really needed to create an impact on audience.
To rush things through or to cut things short? I am sure you know the answer. But wait, knowing, doing and being, which stage are you at?
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