Should the name of your organization fill in the blank? On April 14th, 1970 during the Apollo 13 mission, astronaut Jack Swigert uttered the famous words “Houston, we’ve had a problem”. In the movie Apollo 13 (1995) it was changed to “Houston we have a problem”. Either way you word it, I think that many organizations may have a presentation problem.
This was highlighted to me earlier this summer. I had the opportunity to give a presentation skills workshop to a group of corporate communications professionals. Before the session I sent out a pre-workshop questionnaire (see my previous post). The response rate was excellent – 21 of 35 people responded. Of the questions/responses, there were a number that stood out to me. Certainly the responses to one question said it all:
1. How would you rate the presentation experience at your organization?
The choices were excellent; good; not bad; and usually pretty boring.
The responses were excellent 0%; good 19%; not bad 43%; and usually pretty boring 38%.
So 81% of presentations in this organization are either not bad or usually pretty boring according to the communication professionals who work there. Terri Sjodin discusses designing memorable presentatons in her book New Sales Speak. She is a Certified Speaking Professional, a bestselling author, and a recent inductee to the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. She says that we remember the great presentations, and the terrible ones, but not the average ones. I couldn’t agree more. So if a high percentage of your presentations are “average”, they are probably not memorable, that means you are wasting a lot of time and effort…Houston we have a problem. Of course this is a problem that can be remedied by providing some presentation design training, some hard work, and a willingness to “fix” the problem.
For the crew of Apollo 13, fixing the problem was a life and death situation. Of course presentations are generally not that critical, but they are important. What’s also important is the amount of time and effort that goes into putting them together and delivering them. No one has the luxury of wasting either. Do a quick survey of your colleagues; you may have a problem.
Refuse to be boring