Dear Presenter, Please Don’t Drive Me to Suicide During Your Presentation
There are plenty of gurus and about.com articles and TED talks that may show you how to create amazing presentations, but these people don’t need to actually sit through your said presentation. So, as someone who has had hours shaved off my life by sitting through several presentations, let me tell you what the hell you should be doing.
If you use Powerpoint, so help me god, you’d better only have three goddamn words on each slide. If you at any point, turn and read text from it, I swear to god, I will drown a puppy.
If there are a group of you who are going to present, it’s pretty fucking obvious that you all are going to do different parts of the presentation. We get it. After each segment, the person does not need to say, “Now Julia will talk about…”; “I’ll turn it over to Raoul…” “Vicki will take you through the next slide.” It will be painfully obvious when you stop talking and step away when the next person starts. I won’t scream, “My god, what is this sorcery! Vicki just changed into another person!”
I don’t need a slide that says HOUSEKEEPING to tell me that I can get up and go to the bathroom whenever I need to. It’s not like I was going to stay in my seat at all costs and soil my drawers so I won’t miss a precious moment of your Screen Beans describing what teamwork means.
I am here for a presentation. That means that YOU are there to provide me with some knowledge or inspiration. In the words of every reality show contestant ever, “I’m not here to make friends.” Therefore, please don’t make me turn to my neighbor and answer whatever dumb question you put up on the screen, just to buy you time/make you feel like you've created a community in the room or give yourself a pat on the back for making your presentation “interactive”.
For the love of Christ, please let the poor schmuck who is charged with the incredibly demeaning task of hitting the space bar to change the screen just do his one measly job with some dignity. He can figure out if you've finished talking about the slide or not on his own, you don’t need to manually tell him to go on each time. Please let him just do his one fucking job.
If someone asks a question, nine times out of ten, the rest of the audience will not hear them. Just repeat their question before you answer it please. If not, you’ll start talking about something that means gibberish to the rest of us and then we will get annoyed and start to turn on you, and that impatient asshole in the back will yell “what was the question“ at you and it makes it feel more like a TMZ press conference than anything else.
Inevitably, an inept audience member who will ask “[I have a very specific situation that applies to no one else here, and I've made the decision to ask this question to you in front of all these people because I’m an ignorant selfish fuck who doesn't realize or care that I am wasting everyone’s time, so please answer this question that will help no one but me]?” Say it with me: shut that down. Similarly, shut down any distracting or ignorant questions. You are not obligated to answer everything. Ask the person to talk to you after so they can corner you and get spittle all over you while I get to leave and get on with my day.
So help you god, if you use some sort of reference to Borat, Austin Powers, Justin Bieber, twerking, gangnam style…I will murder you in the night.
Listen, I know you've probably been given x amount of time for the presentation, and think “hey, we don’t want to be talking the whole time! Let’s make this interactive! We are attune to various audience learning styles!” Wrong, If you are given x amount of time for the presentation, and you have planned something that is y amount of time, where Y < X, that is fine. Getting done a bit early will make you heroes in our eyes. We will be so impressed that you are done early that it will give us positive feelings about your presentation, and probably say we love it!
Sometimes, you have time r, which is X-Y, or the time you think you have left. You instinctively need to fill the time, want to make it interactive….so…I am sure you know where I am going with this….CASE STUDIES! Not only that, but you start counting off so we can form groups, so not only do I have to move and huddle uncomfortably around a group of people with whom I will never work with again, but we have to read about a fake scenario that you came up with the night before, and then answer some demeaning and obvious questions about it on a fucking huge Post-it pad, and I have to pretend that I am a team player by proclaiming, “I’ll be the writer!” and snatching up the sharpies you've provided with gusto. We bullshit with the group until you call time and we do the obligatory “report out” like we give a shit about what everyone talked about in their fake scenario…..because there’s absolutely no follow -up and no policies or actual useable ideas created from this.
And then, at the end, you CLAIM you want our feedback, but you don’t really care, so you print up some fucking half sheet asking questions with an arbitrary rating scale and a half inch space for comments. Of course, we can’t wait to get the fuck out of there, so we’ll just scribble anything to be done, even writing “great! :)” just so I can get it over with. If you really want my opinion, you’d give me the time to give it.
So, I implore you, potential presenters of mine, just give me the goddamn information you want me to have, and do it succinctly. Let’s cut all the bullshit theatrics around presenting- if you are worried about your presentation not being interactive enough, just give me frequent breaks so I can be interaction-y as fuck on my own. We stupid humans can only remember about five things at a time total, so if you teach us even half of that it’s fine. You can still put it under the “presentations” section of your resume and not want to make me off myself.