Are your presentations a “Message in a Bottle”?

message in a bottle

In 1979 the band The Police released a song called Message in a Bottle.  I think that the chorus is a good metaphor for some presentations:

I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Have you ever had what you think is a great idea and you want others to buy in? You throw your idea out into the “ocean” of your organization (via email) and then plan a meeting/presentation to discuss it.

The presentation is a great opportunity to “sell” your idea. However, if your presentation is not persuasive and memorable your idea could become a message in a bottle….floating around the organization but never finding a home. Colleagues may say, “What was the idea that Joe had?”

In my experience, crafting THE presentation message is one of the most challenging parts of presentation design; you must identify a single, clear, and concise message.  I start by asking myself the question, “What is the one thing I want the audience to remember after they walk out the door?” The message is what drives the presentation; a focused message ensures what needs to be remembered is remembered.

Hope is not a strategy. Don’t just hope that your audience will get your message; take time to craft the message and design the presentation. (I will discuss crafting a presentation message in a later blog)

Joe Pops

Refuse to be Boring – join the revolution

Join the Revolution

Our species has communicated through audiovisual means for at least 30,000 years; some cave paintings are estimated to be that old. These simple paintings were part of a story or a message that people shared.  Consider how information is shared today… is it simple and clear? Do we need a revolution?

It has been said that there is a “presentation revolution” happening.  Some people are moving from “Death by PowerPoint” to a style of presentation which helps us communicate with more clarity, to boost understanding.

Or are we (r)evolving? Is the presentation revolution taking us full circle?  Are we are revolving back to using basic diagrams and simple imagery to enhance the understanding of our stories and messages, just like our ancestors have done for millennia?

I think so.

Joe Pops

Join the revolution

A presentation is a live event, isn’t it?

live event

I read the phrase “live presentation” on a website the other day. I thought… isn’t a presentation always live?

We use the word presentation to mean the live event and the visual supports for that event. This leads us to the phrase “Can you send me your presentation?” Sending someone a set of slides that they can “read” without the presenter’s commentary suggests they are “slideuments” (see sidebar – Slideuments Anonymous).

It’s interesting that we don’t use this concept with other live events.Take theatre for example, if someone asked you to send them the play you saw last night, you would think they were out of their mind.

Go to “World’s Best Presentations” contest (  There are some beautifully crafted slides and some important messages, however, are they really presentations?

What do you call these series of images with words on them?  I once suggested we call them a “slideshow”, like the Huffington Post does (  Arte Ranganathan of Metamorph Training  ( has suggested “presocuments”.

I think it’s time to find a term for this form of visual communication. It’s also time to change how we think about presentations; they are much more that a collection of slides, they are a live experience.

“When we begin to change our vocabulary, we begin to change the way we think.” – Brains on Fire

Joe Pops

Refuse to be Boring – Join the Revolution