Sometimes I struggle with designing a presentation.  It happened to me last week when I decided I needed to do an “overview” presentation on one of our products.  Maybe the problem was that we had initially proposed too many options, so I felt I had to re-explain everything, or maybe it was the fact that I did not know this particular group of customers very well. Regardless, designing this presentation was like climbing Mt. Everest; slogging uphill all the way.

I changed the main message 5 or 6 times, going back and forth between a couple of ideas. I also changed the opening visuals more times than I can remember. It finally got “OK” a couple of hours before I had to present (did I mention I had a 7:00 a.m. start time?) which didn’t leave much time for rehearsing.

Doing an “overview” presentation should have raised a red flag for me since I had read a blog post about it. Olivia Mitchell (from New Zealand, home of famous mountaineer Sir Edmund Hilary*) wrote about why you should not do overview presentations but I didn’t remember this until after I delivered the presentation!!  The blog post I that I wish I had remembered is called 6 reasons why you shouldn’t give an overview presentation.  Basically…

1. It’s not memorable

2. Nothing will stand out

3. Positions you as a generalist

4. It’s uninspiring

5. It’s boring

6. It’s not efficient

To read the commentary on each point, visit her blog at www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/content/overview-presentation/

Next time I get bogged down designing a presentation I am going to re-read this blog post and make sure that I haven’t slid into “overview” mode.  In Olivia’s words it’s better to be deep than wide, and I agree.  Next time I will present the deep part, and I will make a nice handout for the wide part.

So when you feel like you are slogging uphill in designing your presentation think of Mt. Everest, which should lead you to Sir Edmond Hillary (from New Zealand), which should lead you to Olivia and her 6 reasons why you shouldn’t give an overview presentation blog post.  Check and make sure you are not doing an “overview”.

No more overviews for me.  Love to hear your experiences

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring

* We shouldn’t forget that Tensing Norgay was the other person to be first to the top of Everest.

2 Replies to “Sometimes it’s like climbing Mt. Everest”

  1. Sometimes though, an overview is what the audience needs…….. The trick is to *make* a way to make it work.
    That said, I’ve got every sympathy with you! I think it’s harder than climbing Everest – it’s like pushing water up Everest! 🙂

  2. Thanks Simon
    If you have any tricks for making an overview presentation work please let me know. I think going over the “main message” in a presentation and the details in handout may be one of the tricks that work. What do you think?

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