The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

A Picture Paints A Thousand Words …

For reasons I am unsure of, I have been asked to do a lot of presentations over the last few weeks.

From the board of directors of the World’s most notorious video game company to Silicon Valley VC’s to the social platform Trump is petrified of and a whole host in-between … I’ve been asked for my POV on all manner of things.

The role of technology in sexual education.

How technology can evolve how we tell stories.

Why the best way to be wanted is to be banned.

How experience design is increasingly built on efficiency not emotion.

How to create the environment where the best creative is allowed to be born.

It’s been so much fun …

Not just because it made me think about things or that I got to meet a bunch of amazing people, but because I could do the presentation entirely as I felt I wanted to.

It’s not that I have felt I couldn’t do what I believe was right, but over the last few years, there’s been a few people who have tried to convey a ‘this is how you should say things’ attitude.

Now don’t get me wrong, it takes an army to make an argument and you should always be open to other people’s thoughts and suggestions … but if you’re made responsible for giving the presentation, then you should get the final call on how you express it.

Having people more obsessed with how you’re saying things rather than what is being said is pretty depressing, but not as depressing when you realise colleagues can be more of an obstacle to great work than your clients.

When that starts happening, you start questioning things.

Often yourself.

Are you good enough?

Are you worthy enough?

And then, before you know it, you’re chipped into complicity by the constant stream of criticism … leaving you with no confidence, no self-belief and not much hope for where you’re heading.

I wrote about this a short while ago which is why I want to just reiterate, when you do the presentation you want, the feeling is infectious.

Not just to you, but to who the audience is.

Here’s some examples of the pages I’ve presented in the last few weeks …

And here’s the thing, they all went down very well.

Sure, some of them made the audience gulp.

But they also loved it because they knew I was saying was to try and help them win better rather than just kick them in the head.

And that’s the key.

Show you really give a shit about them.

However, while some seem to think you do this by pandering to the audience, I believe it is by giving them utter transparency and honesty.

Let’s face it, if you’re willing to do that to a client at a formal presentation – albeit doing it in a way where they understand why you’re doing it – then most of the time they’re going to respect you, even if they don’t agree with you.

I’ve had so many clients come to me/us who initially didn’t.

Because as my old, brilliant head of NIKE marketing said to me once,

“Middle management want to be told they’re right. But senior management want to know how to be better”.

23 Comments so far
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I remember the times it was what you said during the presentation that caused people to gulp. Great point about who should be able to make the call on a presentation. How you communicate your point is important but if the feedback is just about personal taste rather than clarity on the point being made, then they’re just trying to assert their position or trying to claim some role in what you’ve done.

Love all these slides, would love to see the presentations if you are willing and able.

Comment by George

He’s come such a long way since impact font.

Comment by Bazza

Hang on, it wasn’t just me.
It was also 15 bloody years ago.
And we still got praise for how we constructed our decks. Which means the people we were presenting to had even less taste than me, Haha.

Comment by Rob

But their dress sense was still better.

Comment by Bazza

The subtle difference between wanting to help and forcing your opinion.Amazing how many managers don’t know the difference and don’t realise the impact it has on teams.

Comment by Pete

They let it wash over them by telling themselves that without their involvement they wouldn’t win. And if they don’t win, they tell themselves they were closer to winning than if they had not been involved. So ego basically.

Comment by George

Don’t forget when they say they know the audience better than you, but have no intention to do any of the presentation.

Comment by Bazza

We’ve all had them. It’s one of the key things I learnt in what ‘not’ to do with my teams. I’ll have an opinion but it’s their decision if it’s a valid one and even if it is, it’s their choice on how to express it.

The worst presentations are the ones where it reads like a 1000 authors. But not as bad as it is when one person has had their presentation diluted by 1000 demands … to the point where they may have written the words, but they know longer know what any of it means anymore.

Comment by Rob

I have some people that need to see the presentations that gif 1 and 3 are attached to. I don’t care what the presentations are about, they need to see 1 and 3.

Comment by Bazza

Hahahaha … always up for that.

You know how much I like making people feel slightly uncomfortable in presentations.

Comment by Rob

All too well.

Comment by Bazza

Everyone knows that Robert.

Comment by George

slightly uncomfortable? fucking understatement of the century.

Comment by andy@cynic

No one could get you to wear shoes, so there’s zero chance someone could get you to change your presentation just because they would phrase something differently.

Comment by ML

But I thought you were meant to devote the first couple of minutes of your audience’s attention to reading out your presentation’s index.

Comment by John

Or re-reading the brief the client gave you in the first place.

Comment by Rob

“I know what the brief is because I fucking wrote it.”

Comment by DH

congratulations on finally making a slide that made me laugh campbell. the usb porn is maybe the best point youve ever made. only took 30 years.

Comment by andy@cynic

I thought it was about Billy’s love life.

Comment by DH

Fuck you.

Comment by Billy Whizz

A well considered response as always.

Comment by DH

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