Design, Presentations

Making a truly personal presentation

Hotel Croatia
At the EBU Connect conference earlier this month I experienced an excellent presentation by Patrick Damsted. It was a very good example of utilizing one of the most important advantages of doing a presentation. The fact that the presenter is there in person.

I have watched too many presentations where this advantage has been wasted. Presentations where a person goes on stage, reads through a bunch of bullet points and goes off stage.

Why bother? Why spend your money and time travelling to the venue at all? If you are there to read some bullet points I can give you some valuable advice: don’t go.

Email your bulletpoints to the audience and let them read through it themselves. It will be more efficient. People read faster than they speak. Even faster than you speak. You’ll save your money, your time, your jetlag and your disappointed family. Stay home.

Patrick Damsted
So what did Patrick do?
First of all, the good people organizing the conference was very clever at connecting the right people the day before the conference started.

Because I was talking about future technologies in general at day 1 and Patrick did a presentation on digital video recorders at day 2 we sat down and went through our presentations. I did some adjustmants and found some references where I could inform the audience that they would learn more in Patrick’s presentation the next day.

Patrick also did some adjustments. Actually, he did some serious adjustments…

So he goes on stage, introducing himself. Then he says something like this:

“After listening to some of the very interesting presentations yesterday I decided to throw away my original presentation and make a new one.

I skipped the party last night and went to my hotel room. There I made a new presentation and you’ll have to accept what I was able to make with my camera phone and my Mac.”

At that point he actually got a short round of applause from the audience.

He starts his presentation, and a large part of the visuals are actually pictures taken in that hotel room.

Because most of the audience stay at the same hotel, have the same bag of office schwag and have the same conference programme in their hands we can know for sure that he made those slides right there at Hotel Croatia.

100 000 views
He used the traditional note papers from the hotel. Some postcards from the bag of conference sponsor goodies. The conference programme. Even the toilet paper in the hotel room. Of course he also kept some of his original slides in there, but the overall impression was of a truly personal presentation.

Tailored completely for that particular audience. Filled with references to the other presentations.

Because I had gone through his original presentation with him I could see that he had kept the main points, but by adjusting the presentation the way he did he really honoured the audience with a one of a kind, special act for those people, in that conference at that particular stage.

By doing that he made his own trip from Denmark and all the trips by the audience worth it.

And yes – without the excellent content, knowledge, confidence and general presentation skills this approach would not work at all. But that goes with all presentations. You should always start with hard research, practice and the ability to keep things simple. And of course, read Presentation Zen.

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