I have come to the conclusion that it’s so because, 1- Most of us set pretty low levels of performance for ourselves along the lines of- “Another presentation, let’s just get it over with”, and, 2- Those of us that have more experience don’t really care about most presentations that we are involved in. We’ll prepare for the really big ones, but do virtually nothing for the run of the mill talk. We tend to think, “I’m too busy to prepare properly, I can wing it.” And, 33- For the extra cynical among us “I’ll be able to wing it and it’s all bullshit anyway, so why bother doing anything else?”
Even when we’ve got a really important presentation to do; a sales pitch for an important contract, a product launch or a senior management briefing, we’re unsure as to what to do to make it brilliant so we accept “safe”. Have I missed anything? Is there any other reason why we collude in wasting our, and everybody’s time in taking part in such pointless rituals as:
“The project review meeting”- a whole day of scared people, presenting data they don’t believe in, to people they don’t trust, in order that the “people they don’t trust” can rip into them for missing one tiny piece of data that the senior management thought was really important, and sending them home depressed and really looking forward to the next one.
“The Employee Briefing Session”- A thirty minute break from the production line so that a young man that they don’t know, in a new suit, doesn’t introduce himself, and talks to them like children, uses a laptop and projector to show his script to the disinterested crowd, shovels platitudes of the “We’ve had great year but the Far East situation, as you can see, has greatly affected our ability to compete, blah, blah, blah…”
“The Market Update”- A cryptic title for a bad-news presentation to all employees, “just to fill you in on the opportunities and threats we face in the next financial year”.
I’m not saying that these meetings aren’t important. They are incredibly important. It’s just that our lack of professionalism in preparing for them, and our lack of skill in doing them undermines their effectiveness, however worthy the intention.