Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fundamentally Flawed

On November 7th, 1940, the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge (or "Galloping Gertie" to it's own construction workers) in Puget Sound, Washington, whipped about violently just prior to its collapse due to heavy winds. The condition known as aeroelastic flutter caused the bridge to snap apart like a Lego model. Falling into the Puget Sound only 4 months after it was opened, it is now studied widely by engineering and architecture students as a fundamentally flawed design.

It was destined to fall apart before it was ever completed.

We have a strong belief that the typical business and educational presentation is also fundamentally flawed, right from the opening default page of your favorite presentation program.

The problem with 99% of presentations is that the basic blueprint is completely wrong. In fact, in most cases, the blueprint doesn't even exist. Therein lies the beginning of the presentation aeroelastic flutter. Your presentation is destined to collapse—not because of a bad design or blueprint, but because of NO plans at all.

We have grown accustomed to following blindly a default of Arial typefaces, white backgrounds, bullet points, cheesy pre-built templates and pie charts and graphs that cannot be easily disseminated. Why? Because there has never been a good formula on how to build these structures, and we have all historically been left to our own devices to figure it out on the fly—usually under duress.

The fact is, most of us have never been trained as a speech writer or developer, nor have we probably been formally taught how to give a business speech, and very few people are skilled and experienced graphic designers. In all honesty, there are even fewer resources that you can find that are capable of helping you accomplish your goals of being at the top of your game. And here's the rub... to do a fantastic piece of communication, you need to be acutely aware of ALL of these facets of presentation development.

We call them the "presentation BLT," or the THREE Ds:
  • Development
  • Design
  • Delivery
It's absolutely imperative that you focus on all three aspects of your presentation to hit the proverbial home run. Drop the ball in any one of those three sectors of the job, and you'll lose the game. Ok, enough with the sports metaphors and cliches...

Here's the great thing, though. When you start with the development of your presentation, you construct the blueprints of a really solid, memorable and effective communication tool. It's not a complicated process when you do it in the right order, and make sure you cover all the bases (sorry).

So how do you develop a complete and impactful presentation before you sit down in front of PowerPoint and start dumping in content? Well, we have a proven formula for building a fail-proof structure. Before you even touch a computer, you MUST ask yourself THREE simple—but not easy—questions.

But I'll save that for a future blog.

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