How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Friday, July 23, 2004

Presentations galore, but where's the quality?

    We had a long day at classes today, lengthened by several presentations. In another IT class, we had as many as three presentations, with the first one taking 40 dragging minutes when the allotted time was 15 minutes.
    Then in the next Org. Behaviour class, we had two more presentations which were mostly empty on content. Throughout these 3 hours, I was thinking of things that were wrong with us when we present a topic, and I could think of the following:

1. Lack of involvement - "A good manager should be able to present well." - a truism widely accepted, but this also means that in management schools, presentations have become yet another chore, just like a written assignment, which has to be dealt with, rather than enjoyed. Lack of interest in most topics is clearly visible and if the presenter is disinterested, you can well imagine what the audience would be doing - yes, sleeping.

2. Lack of relevant preparation & poor content - We spend so much time coming together as a group and dividing tasks that we have little time left for preparing the actual content that would go into the presentation. So content suffers, we are left with lists of buzzwords and randomly placed images on every slide.

3. Superficial knowledge - To some extent, this is unavoidable since people from a non-engineering background cannot be expected to learn concepts in, say, networking and telecom, in a short span of time, and vice versa. Still, if one decides to speak on some aspect, one should ideally be very well prepared.

4. Poor slide design - In loading (downloaded) material onto slides, we frequently miss out on good slide design principles. This problem can be further broken down into:
         i. layout and colour problems - choosing backgrounds and font sizes and colours that are very difficult to make out.
        ii. cluttered slides - slides being used as memory aids, every little line is added to the slide. A good slide should have relatively little text on it, unless it is meant to be viewed and understood independently, like the slides used in a lecture by a professor.

5. No audience involvement - We have not yet learnt to gauge audience reaction from their faces or gestures, and hence we just do our own thing up there on the stage, without regard to whether the audience actually understands it, whether it is enjoying the topic or is getting bored to death. This is a fatal flaw, because the whole purpose of the presentation - conveying something about the topic to the audience - might be getting lost.

    So we have a long way to go. Of course we will each have several more attempts at presentations and hopefully, will learn from our own and others' mistakes.


Blogger ASHOK VAISHNAV said...

Your concerns are well placed.
You will be able to also access good many of sites which can help in the more effective and effcient presentations.
Content is within the hands of the presentor only.

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