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The problems with presentations


Assalamu alaykum everyone,

I thought it would be beneficial if I shared this with you. This is an extract from the book “Presenting to Win” I recently mentioned on one of my recent posts. I did so many presentations myself and most probably fell prey to one of those mistakes.

Here is the extract:

The vast majority of presentations fall prey to what I call the Five Cardinal Sins:

  • No clear point. The audience leaves the presentation wondering what it was all about. How many times have you sat all the way through a presentation and, at the end, said to yourself, “What was the point?”
  • No audience benefit. The presentation fails to show how the audience can benefit from the information presented. How many times have you sat through a presentation and repeatedly said to yourself, “So what?”
  • No clear flow. The sequence of ideas is so confusing that it leaves the audience behind, unable to follow. How many times have you sat through a presentation and, at some point, said to yourself, “Wait a minute! How did the presenter get there?”
  • Too detailed. So many facts are presented, including facts that are overly technical or irrelevant, that the main point is obscured. How many times have you sat in on a presentation and, at some point, said to yourself, “What does that mean?”
  • Too long. The audience loses focus and gets bored before the presentation ends. How many times in your entire professional career have you ever heard a presentation that was too short?

When presenters commit any of these sins, they are wasting the time, energy, and attention of their audience. What’s more, they are thwarting their own objectives.

Each of these Five Sins is quite separate and distinct from the others.

Here’s an analogy to illustrate:

Suppose you and I were chatting, and I said, “Let me tell you about what I had for dinner last night.” My presentation would have a point, wouldn’t it? You’d know what I intended to do, and I wouldn’t be committing the first sin.

But why on earth should you care about what I had for dinner last night? Unless you had said, “Jerry, I’m bored with all the restaurants
in the area. Can you recommend a new place?” Then, by telling you about the excellent meal I had at a hot new bistro last night, I would be providing a benefit to you, and I’d avoid the second sin.

Now, if I told you about my fine meal by starting with the dessert, then I went back to the salad, then jumped forward to the cheese course, then back to the main course, my story would have no flow. If instead I went from soup
to nuts, it would have a clear and orderly path, and I’d eliminate the third sin.

If I described the courses I ate by using the phylum, class, order, genus, and species of every animal and vegetable product in the dinner, it would be far too technical and too detailed. If instead I confined my description to descriptive adjectives and simple nouns, I would avoid the fourth sin.

Finally, if I took four hours to tell you about a meal that took me only two hours to consume, my presentation would be too long. If instead I did it in five minutes, I’d escape the fifth sin.

I hope you wouldn’t commit any of these “sins” while doing your presentation anymore, inshallah.


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