Good Presenters Are…

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I know nothing about a lot of things.

One of these is my limited understanding of giving a presentation.

But lack of knowledge doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion (my blog after all).

A great presentation requires many things.

A nice room.  Comfortable seating.  Air conditioning, but not too much air conditioning (I get cold now that I’m old).  A PowerPoint that doesn’t have Funny is Always Good.a bazillion words on each slide.  An internet connection that isn’t slower than dial-up.  Free stuff (you can buy an audience’s love with food, pens, letter openers, umbrella (?)… possibly a car).

The problem is most people only focus on these items.

They double-check the room set-up.  They obsess on the sound system.  They spend hours preparing their PowerPoints.  They go to great lengths to memorize entire presentations.  They make sure they look professional.  The buy all kinds of crap with their name/logo on it (don’t get me wrong, I like free crap… but it’s still crap).

Then they present.

And it stinks.

It’s totally unremarkable.  It’s hard to remember what the presenter said 10 minutes after it’s over.

I don’t understand why people do this.

Especially when the problem is so obvious.

It’s wasn’t the room.  It’s wasn’t the PowerPoint (although for the love of Pete… stop with all of the words and clipart… and remember your audience can get your general idea in less that 120 slides).  It wasn’t even that the free stuff was crappier than usual (again, it’s crap… but keep it coming… I can never have too many nail files).

The problem was the presenter.

Most are very knowledgeable.  Most have a great deal they want to share.  Most are very well prepared.

And most are still boring.

Not bad.  Just boring.

Really boring (like Mitt Romney boring).

It’s like watching slides of your parents’ first vacation to a local state park from 40 years ago (explanation for the kids:  slides pre-dated digital cameras, Polaroids, colored film, and life as we know it).

Boring is always worse worse than bad.

Poor presentations can always be traced back to one thing.

They weren’t funny.

That’s the key.


The more the better.

The presenter doesn’t have to be a professional comedian, but every presentation needs a little entertainment value.

It can be a joke.  Or a video.  Or even an activity (as long as I don’t have to participate… not interested in group projects or role-playing… that’s just me).

Maybe a talking dog or a monkey in a suit (always funny).

But it has to entertain people on some level.

If you want me to remember your great idea, you need to make me smile.

And don’t forget… if all else fails, give me free crap.

You had me at funny.

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11 Responses to “Good Presenters Are…”

  1. nbrach
    on Mar 6th, 2010
    @ 9:01 pm

    and I liked the “as long as I don’t have to participate” part.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @nbrach, Don’t want to participate… don’t want to tell you a little bit about myself.

  2. Erica R (iteachcomputers)
    on Mar 6th, 2010
    @ 9:08 pm

    Great post! After 2 days at ICE (and presenting twice), I have seen my share of ho hum presentations (not your better half, though, LOVED her!). I try my best to engage my audience, much like I try to engage my junior high students, but I always wonder when it’s all over how I came across. I wish people would be more honest about my presentations when I ask, because I really want to know! What do you think is the best way to collect “real” feedback about a presentation from the attendees?

  3. TimGee3
    on Mar 7th, 2010
    @ 12:19 am

    Ok, so rub my nose in it… I had a presentation that went smashingly (no one would have said it was boring, I think) and in the first 30 seconds I set up a killer joke, it was built up throughout the presentation (4 minutes and 30 seconds) and then at the very end I choked the punchline! AGH!!! It was a timed presentation and the guy who was keeping time did this thing with his hands that totally caused cerebral gaseousness, and yes, I had a brain fart… It was genius when I shared it with my colleagues before hand and yet it went flatter than a five day old glass of diet pepsi…

    Yeah, I blew it, and now I feel worse about it than I did… Thanks!

  4. TimGee3
    on Mar 7th, 2010
    @ 12:21 am

    I meant to say it ALMOST went smashingly….

  5. TimGee3
    on Mar 7th, 2010
    @ 12:21 am

    Crap, I blew it again…

  6. AllanahK
    on Mar 7th, 2010
    @ 2:10 am

    OK Good advice. I am flying to the North Island on Wednesday to do a couple of workshops on the joys of using Web2.0 in the classroom.

    Should I start with

    I wonder if they would get it???

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @AllanahK, My new favorite video.

  7. jkrouskoff
    on Mar 7th, 2010
    @ 3:28 am

    The 24 video is priceless and captures the essence of the question, “Why bother, the tools we’ve always used have always worked?” Know that by including that link in your response, you will have an impact on others you will never meet. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. Erica R (iteachcomputers)
    on Mar 7th, 2010
    @ 7:29 am

    I agree with Michael. This is my new favorite video too!

  9. Neil
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 11:00 pm

    Great post!

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