I’m prepping this week for my upcoming panel on personalization down in Orlando for eTail Connect (it’s about a week off) and one of the things I’m supposed to be doing is preparing a few slides for a 1-2 minute overview on what I’m doing in personalization. I’ve decided I’m not going to do it though, and here’s why.
For the most part, every time I do a presentation with a big slide show, I find myself too tied to my script. In my opinion, any kind of talk should be just that – a talk. Visual aids can be handy if you need to show an example, or if you want to visualize numbers in a chart – but having slides just for the sake of having something to look at defeats the purpose of a talk. When I talk, my goal is to provide the audience with valuable content, and that means being reactive to the audience, the moderator, and anyone else who might be part of the discussion.
Because that’s what it is when I talk. It’s a discussion – or at least it’s meant to be. Even though I usually know quite a bit about the topic being discussed (otherwise why was I invited?), I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know everything. If I’m in front of a group of people, the best thing you can do is figure out a way to have interaction – and reading scripted notes from a slideshow doesn’t do that at all.
Now I’m not advocating a forced push to get the audience to respond, nor for there to even to necessarily be conversation during the “presentation” part – but what I do prefer is that a presentation gives the audience the feeling that I honestly want to interact and discuss (because I do!). Slides and images and text on screens take away from that, and in my opinion are better off used for a whitepaper, blog post or other kind of media that someone can look at and consume at their leisure. When you’re with people, you need to address the people – not just read a script to them.
So, even though it’s just two minutes of “slide time” per person for my panel discussion, I’m skipping the slides. I’ll explain what it is I’m doing, but I’ll also be taking into account what others on the panel have already said and putting my experience in relative context. The last thing an audience needs is to hear four people say the same thing while they show pictures of their website. Then, the sooner we can get to the “panel,” the better – because that’s when discussion begins and audience members can start hearing the real intriguing truths and challenges we all face, and what we’ve done to try to solve them.
I can only hope there will be questions from the audience afterward. Bonus points if it’s a question I don’t have an answer to and haven’t even thought of. That will give me a whole new challenge to contemplate and maybe even some fascinating one-on-one discussions later on.
P.S. I’m available to speak if you ever need someone.