This is an open
letter/rant to the Every Presenter.
The Every Presenter from Any Company.
You’ve wasted too much of my time and others’.
It’s time someone took a stand!
It’s time someone stood up to you, and all others like you, and said “No!”
“No!.. We’re not going to tolerate your coma-inducing, verbose, monotonous utterances any longer!”
Here are my 9 rants… Note: The list is endless but 9 feels like a nice, ranty number.
1. Stop patronizing me!
You know what?
I can read. This is going to rock your world… I’ve been able to read most of my life!
I don’t need you to stand at the front of the room pointing to words, enunciating them for me.
In fact, peel your eyes away from the slides, look at me, and talk to me. I’m much more likely to listen to you that way.
Keep reading to me and my top priory will continue to be thinking about what I’m going to use as your voodoo doll.
2. Can I have my eyesight back?
Put. The. Laser. Pointer. Down. And. Back. Away. Slowly.
As I’ve already mentioned… I can read!
I don’t need you to underline each sentence you’re reading with a red line, like an indecisive spell-check in Microsoft Word.
Give it up!
And stop blinding me with the laser!
I know you’re excited to be presenting. I know you’re nervous. But forgetting to turn off the laser and waggling the red beam in my face is not giving me an incentive to pay attention to anything but my feet.
Seriously, knock it off!
3. You feel uncomfortable? Me too. And you’re not helping.
You know that socially awkward kid in high school?
You know the one that never looked comfortable when they were talking to you?
You the know the one you’d do anything to avoid being cornered by?
You’re standing in front of us, stiff and uncomfortable, reciting a script in a monotone voice.
You’re so uncomfortable, you’re making us uncomfortable!
It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel, and how much better we’ll feel, if you just relax and talk to us like we’re all humans.
4. I can’t see it. What’s so interesting on the ceiling?
As much as you strain, you’re not going to find it.
You’re not going to find it because it’s not there.
Your notes are not on the ceiling. They’re also not at the back of the room.
You don’t have to remember every word perfectly. Just talk to me. When you talk to me, look at me!
Eye contact is important. If you’re not looking at me, we are not engaged in a relationship. If there’s no relationship it’s hard for me to justify enough energy to pay attention.
Look at me!
5. I see you’ve practiced a lot. Sounds exactly like you wrote it.
Imagine you’re at a networking event.
When you meet a new person you rattle off, word-for-word, the “About Us” page of your company’s web site.
Stop trying to recite a script exactly. It sounds weird.
Just speak naturally.
6. Did you pee yourself?
Do you want me to get a bedpan?
What’s that? You haven’t wet yourself?…
Then why are your hands covering your crotch?
When you’re talking to friends, do you stand like this? No? Then don’t do it in your presentations either.
Stop clasping your hands in front or standing with your hands behind your back. Both poses look like you’re doing something wrong.
7. What’s so special about that spot?
You’re making me think you’ve done something wrong again.
What is so special about that place you’re standing?
Why won’t you move?
What did you do?
I can’t focus on what you’re saying because I’m distracted by what you might be hiding.
Loosen up! It’s okay to move around the room a little!
8. Where did those face and body tattoos come from?
It’s tough enough to pay attention to you, but when you’re painted in words it’s impossible.
Every time you step in front of the projector you turn in to an ogre.
An ogre covered in bright light and random words and colors.
What were you saying again? Whoops! I mean, what were you reading again?
Stop walking in front of the projector, it’s distracting!!!
9. If this was a pickup line I’d have called the cops by now.
Where’s my Mace?
A good presentation is like a relationship. Like dating. Like meeting a potential date for the first time.
As the person driving the discussion, you need to say engaging things, ask questions, listen, empathize.
A pickup artist who advised their clients to focus solely on “the goal” and the least number of steps to get there would soon go out of business… Because it doesn’t work. That’s not how we build relationships.
But that’s exactly what you’re doing!!!
Stop focusing on yourself and just getting to the end of your presentation as quickly as you can. If you don’t improve you’re likely to get Maced.
The above is tongue-in-cheek, but these are very real problems in the vast majority of presentations.
What do you think? What’s you’re experience as a presenter or audience member? Let’s chat in the comments below.