As we start a new year, may I encourage you to pause for a moment of introspection?
You'll have access in 2020 to more information, more advice, and more communal knowledge about presentation best practices than ever before. Blogs, online articles, videos, books, conferences… You have resources at your beck and call that previous generations couldn't even dream of.
But all that advice, all that knowledge, all those tips and recommendations are useless if you don't have a commitment to apply them. Reading how to do something better does not make you a better presenter. Practicing the techniques and refining your skills does.
Watching a video on how to manipulate graphics in PowerPoint does not make your presentation slides better. The only thing that makes your slides better is your decision to dedicate the time and effort to improve them.
It is faster and easier to make lousy slides than great ones. It is faster and easier to give a boring, predictable presentation than to prepare and practice a good one. It is faster and easier to put together an uninteresting, unengaging webinar than a memorable one.
If you are an executive or a manager, ask yourself whether you are acknowledging, authorizing, and rewarding the extra time and work it takes your employees to create and deliver something that creates a positive impression of your business. Do performance reviews give any credit to employees who have gone above and beyond the minimum in their presentations to prospects, customers, press, or analysts? Have you encouraged skills development in these areas, or do you just expect people to magically know how to create and deliver a perfect presentation? Does anybody evaluate and give feedback on ways to improve presentation effectiveness after a delivery?
If you do presentations as a part of your job, ask yourself whether you can find ways to incrementally improve after each one. Can you boost your importance to your organization (or potential employers in the future) by learning to communicate more effectively? Can you develop your prominence and reputation as a thought leader and authority in your field? Can you justify investing extra time and work now in order to increase your earnings potential going forward?
Best practices are everywhere. Finding them is easy. Understanding them is easy. Will you do the hard part by choosing to do the work of applying them? I hope so… It pays off in benefits to yourself and your business.