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The Evolution of Presentations

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ShufflrrSince PowerPoint launched 20 years ago, presentations, have basically remained the same. Yes, the aesthetics and features have improved; but the concept – create a presentation with a defined set of slides in a linear order and deliver the presentation in that same order – has not. Presentations have always been an act of planning for telling a message, using words, images, and other props. No doubt that the quality of and technology behind these props has significantly improved over the years, but now the mindset behind giving a presentation is catching up. The way we present is finally evolving to better mimic the way we think and exchange ideas.

Presentations are no longer…just linear slide shows. We’ve seen a gradual shift from a projector to a laptop to even presenting with a mobile device. But even these changes still required a set plan ahead of the presentation. Now, with the advances in technology, we’re seeing an increase in platforms that allow our content to be agile and adapt to the idea of being fundamentally prepared for presenting, engaging and communicating with your audience, rather than talking at them through rigid, linear sequence of slides.

This is a quantitative change in mindset; retrieval of slides coming as instantly as retrieval of thought. Great meetings happen because of the interaction between the presenter and audience, the seller and the buyer. They aren’t ruled by a predetermined sequence of slides created last week. Rather, they are driven from the questions and the answers, which then lead to another idea. Great presentations build as the meeting progresses. For example, imagine you’re presenting to an audience and someone asks a question or makes a comment, having the ability to seamlessly transition to your material (slides, files, videos, etc.) that follow that question is key to creating a conversational presentation, aka a really great meeting. Great meetings are great conversations.  Great presentations follow the conversation.

Presentations will always be about preparedness but now, that preparedness is about mastering your subject matter instead of creating a tedious list of slides with bullet points. Rather, think of your content, your slides, as backup material to support where the conversation goes, not how long to stay on slide 3, 4, or 5. Your slide deck(s) have evolved into a library, or arsenal of slides, that can be used and reused by a business or individual from each presentation they’ve given over time.

This way of thinking is revolutionary to the presentation space – whether it be in sales, business development, human resources, or marketing, because it focuses on connecting with the audience in a conversational manner. The conversation and interaction comes first and the support of the slides comes second. Rather than a performance, followed by a meeting, the presentation is now a component of the meeting.

Take for example, Advisory Committee presentations, meetings for FDA approval of a drug or medical device. The presenters, typically drug companies, have spent 10+ years and hundreds of millions of dollars developing a new drug and then proving its effectiveness. Yet they only have 20-30 minutes to make a formal case, and then up to several days of Q&A by the committee panel. So, they create a library of several hundred slides with complicated scientific data that proves their findings, then they listen to the panel’s question, and then present the specific slide(s) that address that particular question. A classic case of the presentation following the conversation.

This concept will only continue to increase with the advent of new technologies that allow for it. With more and more companies integrating artificial intelligence and augmented reality into their business practice, we can expect to see the same with presentation creation. Your presentation will be more adaptive and intelligent, which will further equip presenters with the tools to tailor presentations to end users.

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