As a student of the presentation game, I’ve watched a lot of presentations in my life. After a while, you can quickly get a sense of those that know what they’re doing, and those that struggle a bit. Unfortunately, recently I joined the ranks of the “struggle a bit” crowd, and if it can happen to me, it can certainly happen to you. The problem? Not leaving well enough alone.
It started harmlessly enough; I was creating a presentation for a charity event. I put just enough creative touches into the presentation to make it interesting, without taking away from the presentation itself. Then I did something I don’t recommend others do: I kept picking at it.
It began with a few extra sound effects. After all, putting a couple of sound effects into a presentation isn’t exactly going to ruin the presentation! Besides, it made me laugh, and if it made me laugh, I knew it was going to make my audience laugh.
Then I began to insert small bits within the presentation, designed to involve the audience. I had a couple strategically placed, and I thought they would create magical moments. Since they looked so good, I put in more – a lot more. I figured they would just strengthen the presentation.
Finally, the flood gates opened and I incorporated video, I inserted multiple presentation fonts, templates, transitions, and other presentation gimmicks. (I mean special effects.) I even found a 20 foot ladder, which I covered with fabric and strategically placed so I could dramatically climb it and continue my presentation towering above my audience. Yes, I was going to take this audience to a place they had never been to before! I had a fever, and that fever was called, “More-Is-Better-Itus.”
Why do so many of us believe that the more we put into a presentation, the better the presentation will be? Are we using the sound, video, templates, transitions, fonts, and gimmicks to build a better presentation? Or could we just be using them as a crutch? It’s a strange irony because the more stuff we put into a presentation, the weaker the presentation becomes. The reason for this is simple: The stuff ultimately gets in the way of the actual content.
That’s exactly what occurred in the presentation I delivered recently. I was consumed by a bad case of “More-Is-Better-Itus.” I threw everything but the kitchen sink at an audience, and my reward was a confused, detached audience that seemed frequently distracted and unable to focus on the content of the presentation. Someone was distracting them, and that someone was me.
The next time you have a presentation that looks sharp and ready to go, please heed my advice: Don’t listen to that voice in your head that wants to keep adding more. You may be getting a little bored with this presentation as you’re practicing it over and over, but that audience you are going to address has never heard it before! Leave the stuff out, and remember these wise words… Leave Well Enough Alone!