Saturday, March 25, 2006

UK OUG Feedback and letting it slide

I got back some feedback on my presentation from the UK OUG. I thought it was a nice touch. You get to hear what people thought of your presentation in terms of content / topic / presentation skills / quality of slides and the overal presentation.

All in all I was pretty pleased with the response, I was obviously a little disappointed as I can't handle being told that I'm anything other than exemplary at anything I do ;-)

Still, I couldn't be that disheartened as everyone seemed to agree that the presentation overall was well done, and of value. Wooo hoo. I'd agree that my presentation skills need a little bit of work... I was a little 'rabbit in headlights', and I'm likely to be like that for the next couple of presentations I do (assuming there are more to come).

However, I was very disappointed at the response on my slides. Apparently nearly 70% of people thought my slides were poor. Damn it!

I think this probably comes from a difference of opinion on the usefulness of slides as much as anything else.

I wasn't presenting anything technical, there were no difficult concepts to comprehend and there was no structures that needed describing visually. I was talking on what was a very human subject. A natural one. One I could happily discuss in the pub, without the need to resort to drawing on napkins.

I wasn't presenting as a representative of the company I work for. I develop in-house systems and we don't do consultancy. There was no need to advertise my firm to the audience.

With those two points in mind I figured that there was no great need for a lot of slides, or to make the ones I did use flashy.

I personally don't like a lot of slides with bullet point representations of the detailed discussion. I sometimes can't help but read the slide and then ignore the presenter. I also don't go for graphics, points sliding in from the side, fading in, fading out. They don't add anything to the discussion.

Anyway... I ended up with 5 slides, every one was black text on a grey background. They weren't sexy by any measure!

Each slide contained a single sentence that was a salient point of that part of the discussion. I wanted to convey the fact that when you walked away from the presentation I wanted you to walk away with these 5 points in your mind. Those 5 points were the main ingredients of the talk, the rest was just spice to fill out the flavour.
I didn't think I needed to sugar coat them, or spoon feed them, or shove them down your throat. I thought the words had enough impact on their own.

If that's what poor slides are... then I'm more than happy to get that feedback!

1 comment:

Norman Brightside said...

You sound like a man after my own heart. Simple, minimal slides with text bullets and no pictures.

I recently saw a talk where the speaker used monochrome, acetate transparencies but it didn't matter. We were listening to him talk not admiring his PowerPoint transitions.