How a pre-read killed the fun of presenting

I am not quite sure who started it all but I kind of suspect it was the consultancy companies. The concept of asking for a pre-read, when you are going to present to your client a few days later, really spoils everything about your presentation.

What I have never understood is why a pre-read? If the author of the presentation is going to take you through it, why not just wait for it? After reading an entire presentation, do you really want to go through it all over again in a few days? You must be having a lot of time on your hands. Or are you just a little slow on the uptake, so by reading through it once, you think you can prepare to ask all the right intelligent questions while the author is presenting? Which ever way you look at it, it doesn’t make any sense.

For the author of the presentation it is even more disgusting. I would hate anybody to know what I am presenting a few days before the event. It takes away the fun of presenting, knowing that everybody knows exactly what you are going to say. Where is the element of surprise? I hardly want an audience that is pre-conditioned to a response to my presentation. It kills the spontaneity of any presentation. Also the pre-read misses on a very important component of the presentation. What the speaker is going to say besides what is there on the slides. Most good presentaters don’t cover everything on the slide, because they want to retain the element of surprise. So the pre-read is incomplete in many respects.

Imagine getting a pre-read of your next Ted Talk? Or a pre-read of your President’s next speech. Or watching a film once before watching it with your family.Wouldn’t be fun would it?

What are the origins of the concept?

The concept of a pre-read may have well originated in theatre. It is the first stage of auditions where the actor only reads for the casting director. If the casting director likes the audition, he/she will call the actor back in for a second read. Well that makes sense for theatre. I am not sure it makes sense for business presentations.

The most irritating things about a pre-read

In rank order, the most irritating thing about a pre-read but which is also a blessing in disguise for the presenter, is that no one in the audience has read it. Irritating because it took away the last few days of polishing up your presentation. The second most irritating thing about a pre-read is that only one person has read it. He is the one who tells you to skip a few slides because he knows it all, while the rest of the audience hasn’t even begun to grasp what you are saying. Typically this is the big boss whom the rest of the audience dare not question. If their job is to be ‘yes men’, it doesn’t really matter whether they have understood the presentation. But if it is not, this can pose a problem.

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death.”

Jerry Seinfeld

And so it goes on. Some clients want the pre-read a good 5 days before the final presentation. Other are alright a day or two before.

And if you are going to be reciever of a pre-read, beware of the bulky ppt that is so large that it needs to be sent through dropbox or wetransfer which is going to attack your inbox.

If I were you, I would wait for the day of the presentation to hear it. But as I said, if you have a lot of time on your hands or are a little slow, or you are a management consultant, it might just help to pre-read your next presentation. So good luck!

Follow me on twitter

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.