Home » How To Avoid ‘Presentation by Committee’

Colleagues.

Co-workers.

Peers.

Whatever you choose to call them, they’re an important part of what makes your working day tick. They’re sounding boards, someone to share a laugh/gossip/grumble with, and, of course, someone to take up the slack with tea-making duties.

And if you’re lucky, they’ll also provide those all-important elements of any successful presentation; inspiration, context and feedback.

STOP LISTENING TO YOUR COLLEAGUES

But tread carefully on that final point. Seeking approval from a cast of thousands, be that your line manager (to ensure that the party line is being followed) to your own direct reports (after all, it’s nice to ensure everyone gets a say, isn’t it?) can be the undoing of a great presentation. There’s a fine line between helpful critique and, well, arse covering.

In the blink of an eye, your presentation can transform from a focused and personal message to an amorphous, generic and, nine times out of ten, tedious exercise in treading the middle ground.

It’s a waste of your time. A waste of your colleague’s time. And, most criminal of all, a waste of your audience’s time.

‘Presentation creation by committee’ is all too common, but the signs are easy to spot. The presentation has minimal direction or call to action, the supporting slides are overly busy, and the overall message has very little to do with the audience’s issues. It’s like the loudest voices from marketing, sales, product, and legal all got together, shouted over each other and someone quietly in the corner recorded the resulting noise onto slide after slide after slide.

HOW TO FIX IT?

Simple, really. You need to OWN your presentation. Have the strength in your convictions and stand proudly by the points you’re making (and if this makes you nervous, perhaps you might want to review what you’re saying – because, if you don’t believe it, why should your audience?).

This is not to say that hermits create great presentations. No doubt the great orators – Dr King, Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs – all ‘ran a few ideas up the flagpole to see if anyone was saluting’ early on in the process, but once they’d sounded their ideas out, they moved forward to make the presentation their own.

Use your colleague’s thoughts as ‘building blocks’ for your presentation at the start of the process. This allows inputs to be considered, moved about, honed and refined before you get into the nitty gritty of presentation development (nailing down your key message and intended outcome, creating your story structure and evolving your content-driven visuals).

SOUNDS A BIT RISKY? WORRIED ABOUT UPSETTING THE APPLE CART?

Well, outside of the blindingly obvious (every presentation is a privilege, and your audience deserves a message that is clear, useful and engaging), there is a more ‘selfish’ reason for truly owning the presentation – your reputation depends on it.

Delivering a message that is personal to you is a hell of a lot more potent than delivering somebody else’s ‘beige’. We’ve all suffered too much from those coma-inducing ‘speaking lots but saying nothing’ ‘made-by-committee’ presentations.

Oh, and your next audience deserves better.

Further Reading

The Art & Science of Presentation Storytelling – https://eyefulpresentations.com/presentation-solutions/presentation-storytelling/

Learn How To Navigate The New World of Presentations – https://eyefulpresentations.com/presentation-training-courses/

The Presentation Lab (Free Download) – https://eyefulpresentations.com/why-eyeful/the-presentation-lab-book/

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