Today something clicked for me. I’m working on my lightning talk for XP 2010, entitled The Product Backlog Hinders Value Creation. I typically do from six to twelve “real” presentations a year, and I want to be good at presenting.
So the thing that clicked is this:
The most important things for a good presentation is that the presenter is seen as honest and passionate about his subject. The best way to accomplish this, is to actually be honest and talk about something that I’m passionate about (imagine that!). This is nothing new, I think.
Previously, though, in my attempts at creating good presentations, I’ve focused on building a logical, un-attackable line of argumentation that naturally and un-attackably leads to my conclusion.
But there’s nothing personal in logic! No personal honesty, no passion or any other emotion in it! I’m not even sure I can tack honesty and engagement on top of a logical presentation. Even though I’ve mostly been passionate about the subject I’m presenting, my presentations have been so rational that the passion simply wasn’t let out to play.
Furthermore, Thinking about this, I realized this follows from the process I use to create my presentations. Figure out the main point. Brainstorm elements I want. Create logical groups out of those elements. Find a good structure for the presentation. Work explicitly on the opening and closing sentences. All logical and good.
Using a logical process is a good way to create a logical presentation. It does not work well – for me, at least – when I want to create a passionate presentation.
So today I took a totally different approach. I simply started writing my thoughts, trying not to censor as I wrote. Getting my words on paper, never mind incoherency or poor choice of words, and then I can start verbalizing, adjusting, making something coherent from it. Starting from a badly written, but honest and passionate text, rather than using the logical process I’ve used previously.
Incidentally, this can be seen as parallells to different ways to approach projects. The logical process I’ve used is in many ways similar to a waterfall approach, whereas the creative, iterative approach is much more similar to an agile approach.
But wait, there’s more! I started by focusing on the qualities – honesty, passion – instead of focusing on the “requirements”; the points I wanted to make. Then I chose a process that supports those qualities. This corresponds just nicely with the theme of the presentation I’m creating.
I’m excited as to what this will result in. XP 2010 is my first presentation for an international audience. It must be good.