Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Before you recycle that presentation: 5 questions

There's nothing wrong with using a presentation more than once, and often you must do so in business situations. But a recycled presentation also comes with risks for the speaker. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you pull that tried-and-true slide deck out for another use:
  1. How many times have you given this talk? Keeping track of the number of times you've given a particular talk or presentation will help prompt you to update it and to consider what has changed since its first iteration. And it'll serve as a reminder that you might now want to consider another approach.
  2. Who's in the audience? Are you sure? If you've lost count of the number of times you've given a talk--even a well-received one--I can match that. I can't tell you how many times I've avoided events when I knew or suspected the speaker was going to opt for a well-worn presentation. Often, that means I miss some headliner speakers, but I don't miss the repeat preso. Don't assume that your audience is full of newcomers every time. If you're building a following, they'll follow you...and expect new content.
  3. How bored are you? I ask for an important reason: If the speaker's bored, then I'll be bored. Your interest level, excitement and motivation may be dimmed the more you give a particular preso. If you must repeat it, figure out some new ways to make it exciting once again for you, and for me.
  4. Have you adjusted the small details? A telltale sign of the recycled presentation are out-of-date titles, names, dates, and data. Make sure you take the time to proofread and update if you're reusing a presentation.
  5. What does it say about you? Trust that someone, perhaps many people, will know that you've given this or a similar talk before. Does that tell them you're dialing it in? Lacking time to update? Not concerned with tailoring your remarks to the group at hand? Think about how it looks to be giving a talk you've already delivered before you choose it as your topic.
(Photo from AGeekMom's photostream on Flickr)

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