What’s really being said is what’s been left unsaid.
“Put yourself out there and there’ll be people who’ll tell you why they hate your work. Pay no attention.
If they care, they will attempt to fix it. And, when they do, they’ll realize your work was perfect all along – in ways they weren’t able to comprehend.”
“When the unreasonable aren’t getting their way they call the reasonable stubborn.”
– Michael Lipsey
One Point Perspective’s Presentation Pet Peeves
- Power Point Border Patrol – In this scenario, the presenter has no idea how to give us the Power Point without the working border being visible to the audience. People with good vision can actually read ahead in the slides on the left margin, assuming they are literate and awake.
- An Old Fashioned Read-Along – This one really drives me insane. The presenter puts together a presentation, and then reads it from the screen – verbatim – to the captive audience. I have yet to sit in an audience where there were known illiterates, but if there were, these knuckleheads are onlyenabling them.
- The Tongue Twister/Ear Acher – This involves rubbing salt in the wounds of the pre-annoyed victims of The Old Fashioned Read Along, wherein the presenter reads the presentation and butchers words with which they obviously have no familiarity. This faux pas tends to take away credibility from the presenter (For the record, it’s pronounced “fox pass”). Mispronouncing words in your own presentation is the epitome of bad form one is epp-ee-tohm)
- Such A Freaking Joke – There is some sort of public speaking wives’ tale which says that breaking the ice with a joke will put everyone at ease. The audience is generally already pretty relaxed, sitting in chairs and waiting for the dog and pony show. Obviously, the joke is only to put the presenter at ease, but it seldom works. Telling jokes takes a little bit of talent and timing which many presenters simply do not possess. In addition, there is the matter of the joke being worth telling in the first place. Tapping the microphone and asking “Is this thing on?” will often result in ear splitting audio feedback.
- If You Have To Ask… – Many presenters like to offer the audience the chance to ask questions, and this should be applauded. One can only hope the presenter knows enough about the subject to actually be able to answer. The pet peeve in this case is when the presenter forgets that he or she is the only one with a microphone and very few people in their audience can actually hear the question. This renders the answer essentially meaningless. This is easily remedied by having the person with the microphone repeat the question before answering it. In the 16 presentations I attended this September, not one presenter employed this simple strategy.
- There IS Such A Thing As A Stupid Question – Every so often, the audience member asking the question will be sitting close enough for others to actually hear it. Unfortunately, some people have such enormous egos that they believe that there could possibly be one or more audience members who actually share the exact same problem as them. As an example, an assembled crowd of four hundred employees are listening to a presentation about their new healthcare plan. A person raises his hand and asks whether his preferred brand of toe nail fungus treatment will be covered under the prescription coverage. Those in the audience who could actually hear the question can only stare in nauseated disbelief.
- Smart Phone/Dumb Owner – This issue is far from being restricted to presentations, but it needs to be included. Assemblies of employees are frequently interrupted by cell phones, usually those of audience members, sometimes the actual presenter. When buying a new cell phone, customers should not leave the store without first finding out how to silence the device. If you refuse to learn how to silence your smart phone, it should be mandatory that your ring tone be changed to “Hey! It’s for me, [insert name here]! I’m too ignorant to silence my phone.” This would be particularly embarrassing to anyone unfortunate enough to be named Insert Name Here.
- It’s A Microphone, Not A Magic Scepter – This is pretty simple. Microphones work to amplify the voice of the speaker. The mike doesn’t work if the speaker’s gestures include pulling the device away from their faces. I’m sure someone in the tech department will read this and buy a few really expensive head-piece microphones to keep the big wheels from embarrassing themselves. You sir, are no Phil Donahue.
- A Little Bit of This ‘An ‘At – We’ve all got our little speech idiosyncrasies. For example, it’s accepted that teenagers of a certain era put the word “like” in between every couple of words. Teenagers get a free pass, because correcting them will result in eye rolling and possible sulking. If as an adult, you feel the need to refer to additional thoughts as “this an at” or to use the non-word “irregardless” throughout a presentation, you will incur my wrath. I will keep score and draw non-flattering doodles of you in the margins of my hand-out.
Bikes should give way to cars:
- Cars are bigger
- Cars are faster
- Cars are powerful
- A car can hurt a biker
- Cities are built for commerce, and powered vehicles are the engine of commerce
- It’s inefficient for a car to slow down
- I’m in a car, get out of my way
- I’m on a bike, I’m afraid
Cars should give way to bikes:
- Bikers need a break
- Bikers are more fragile
- Bikes aren’t nearly as powerful
- A car can hurt a biker
- Cities are built by people, and while commerce is a side effect, the presumption that cars are the reason for a city is a bit… presumptuous
- It’s a lot of work for a bike to stop and start again
- I’m on a bike, get out of my way
- I’m in a car, I see you
“I hang out with the Amish because their adoption of technology seems to us totally crazy because first of all, they’re not Luddites. They’re complete hackers. They love hacking technology. They have something called “Amish electricity,” which is basically pneumatics. A lot of these farms had a big diesel… They don’t have electricity, but they have a big diesel generator in the barn that pumps up this compressor that sends high-pressure air tubes down tubing into their barn into their homes and so they have converted their sewing machine, washing machine to pneumatic.”
“They say, ‘Will this technology allow us to do that? Will it help us do that or will it work against that?’ Right now, they have been deciding whether to accept cell phones or not, even though they don’t have land line phones. Basically, some of them are going to accept cell phones and they do that by there’s always some early Amish adopter who’s trying things and they say, ‘OK Ivan. Bishop says you can…’ He has to get permission. He says, ‘You can try this, but we’re watching you. We’re going to see what effect this has on your family, on your community. You have to be ready to give it up at any time we say that it’s not working,’ and they do this on a parish by parish. It’s very de-centralized. They try it out. Always trying out new technologies and they’re always looking to see, ‘Does this strengthen the families? Does this strengthen the communities? If not, we don’t want it.”
The Amish are firm believers in the Sabbath, a weekly day to relax, step back and reflect. In our electricity filled world we’ve come to call this “unplugging.” That could be from driving if you have a long commute, or Twitter if you send hundreds of tweets during the work week. But this isn’t to say these technologies are negative:
“You do that not because it’s terrible or poison, but because it’s so good…It’s like you want to step back so that you can re-enter it and with a renewed perspective, with a renewed appreciation, with having spent time looking at it in a different way. I like that kind of rhythm of having Sabbaths and then yearly vacations, retreats. Then every seven years you take a true sabbatical, I think that kind of rhythmic disconnection or Sabbath I think is very powerful, something that works very well and was something that we had in our family.”
“Too much resolution stops giving you information and becomes merely noise, which actually gets in the way of the accuracy you seek.”
Fighters and pugilists are different.
The fighter fights when she has to, when she’s cornered, when someone or something she truly believes in is threatened. It’s urgent and it’s personal.
The pugilist, on the other hand, skirmishes for fun. The pugilist has a hobby, and the hobby is being oppositional.
The pugilist can turn any statement, quote or event into an opportunity to have an urgent argument, one that pins you to the ground and makes you question just about anything.
Instead of playing chess, the pugilist is playing you.
Pugilists make great TV commentators. And they even seem like engaged participants in meetings, for a while. Over time, we realize that they are more interested in seeing what reactions they can get, rather than in actually making positive change happen.
A committed pugilist has a long list of clever ways to bait you into an argument. You’ll never win, of course, because the argument itself is what the pugilist seeks. Call it out, give it a name, share this post and then walk away. Back to work actually making things better.