What is a presentation?

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

Real life Presentations

In today's business environment, a presentation is as different as the jobs we have.

When I've taught Public Speaking, we discuss the "Rhetorical Situation" and Artistotle's modes of persuasion, and these are really interesting, and still relevant. We teach to not look at the screen too much, have a well-researched topic, and a good organizational pattern. But we rarely think of applied business contexts, and we rarely simulate real business presentation situations.

Gemba Walk and other Contexts

A recent interview with a factory manager told me that a presentation, in his business, included a Gemba walk, which was Japanese for "Walk in the workplace." A presentation on the plant floor was a daily update his project managers would give him as they walked through the factory floor.

Likewise, an insurance salesman said that the most common presentation his agents give is a talk around a table to a potential client. When a couple comes in talking about insurance, that is the chance for the agent to listen, and then explain the product in a way they'll understand. That is a presentation.

And of course, yes, some people do use PowerPoint. And there are techniques to make these more dynamic and engaging. But this is less often than you might think. People do make pitches for money and use slides. And people do present status updates with slides.

But we need to rethink what, or perhaps where, a presentation is. It is everywhere. It is anytime we present ideas to other people, even on our own team. We make claims. We cite evidence. And sometimes, just sometimes, we use PowerPoint.

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