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Infinite inputs ­- finite outputs

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November 15th, 2015 Dave Meyer

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And very different from every other presentation you’ve ever done. Updates. Management reports. Sales. All so unique. And because they’re all so different, they all require you to start from scratch when preparing them. Right? I mean, if you’re not treating each new piece of communication like it’s own entity (with their own rules, flow, content) and if you sped less than an hour preparing them, then surely something must be wrong?

Wrong. While the amount of presentations may be infinite, the amount of executions isn’t.

I know, I know. Your presentation is special. You’re special. you’re both one of a kind! So me telling you that there could actually be a standard, silver bullet for what you’re trying to achieve is farcical, isn’t it. Give me two more minutes and I’ll change more than your mind – I’ll change your life.

All presentations are designed to achieve something. To make something happen. To make the audience do something different. (If you don’t agree with this, the most basic of presentation aphorisms, then you shouldn’t be reading this in the first place. And good luck with the paltry, mediocre life you’ve set yourself up for.) And, while the content may change, the way the content is told shouldn’t.

You want a metaphor? Fine. Say you’re about to lay a road. Now, it’s a new road, in a new neighbourhood, and new cars will drive all up ‘n down that shit. Should you:

  1. Create bespoke, from-scratch plans for this road, before building it in its own, unique way?
  2. Use the most successful road-building technique that people far smarter and roadier than you have proven, over many years, to work best?

It’s the same with presentations. While variances in data may be infinite, there are still a limited amount of outcomes that presentations can provide:

  • They can motivate
  • They can convince
  • They can sell
  • They can support

For each of these, there is an absolute best way of making it happen – a process and a structure, a formula that will knock it out of the park every time. A best practice. And then, for each of the above, there are a thousand, less effective ways (the ones you’re spending your nights and weekends agonising over). If you want bespoke, buy a bicycle. If you want success, use something that’s been proven to have the highest hit ratio, empirically; emphatically supported and rigorously tested by those who do these kind of thing. Reinventing the wheel is for bored, unsuccessful folk who still live with their parents.

The bad news? You don’t get to feel like you’ve created something fresh every time (you corporate artist, you). The good news? You get to spend your time on things that require it – like your kids, mountain biking, sleeping – and you can dramatically increase the success of your presentations. And, at the end of the day, it’s that desire for success that made you decide to do it in the first place.

Posted by Dave Meyer

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