Ye olde presentation

I was invited to the Swiss Arbor Camp in Pierre a Bot above Neuchâtel yesterday to do a talk.

Should you never have been to this event, I highly recommend it, the AC crew put so much effort into it, you really sense the degree of loving attention to detail and the hard work which go into making it happen. Today is the last day, but there will always be another year…

I used the opportunity to rework an old presentation about interactions in teams. There is always something quite special about pulling a presentation off the virtual book shelf after not having looked at it for years. You can imagine it being like a heavy, leather bound tome, smelling all musty and booky, covered with a deep layer of dust. It also is of course linked to the time when you first worked on the topics.

This one, As Strong as the Weakest Link, I first put together for Climbers’ Forum in 2008. It contains no shortage of really interesting material: Martin Holden’s expanded definition of competence, Antje Schrupp’s positive take on authority and differentiation between authority, power and violence, Atul Gawande talking about hyper-specialisation, the concept of risky shift, James Reason’s thoughts on how the failure to acknowledge human error can lead to system failures… but blimey, by the time I had worked  through it, I was spinning – bearing in mind this all needs to fit into 45 minutes! A tad ambitious, methinks.

So then the next step is to strip it all down to the essential statements you are trying to make, killing your heroes – your favourite slides and analogies – in the process. In this case I picked out two elements and rebuilt the presentation around them.

The original presentation was severely overburdened with text. Bearing in mind what Garr Reynolds says in Presentation Zen all of that went out of the window, using no more than five words per slide, as otherwise Reynolds says simply hand out a Word document. I also axed a number of meaningless visual embellishments.

The good news is that this enables you to expand a topic to make a clearer statement – and use the rest some other place. Really pleased with how this has turned out, the key statements to me now (finally) feel clear and stream-lined, surrounded by less fluff. Certainly something worth doing.

Now I am looking forwards to sharing it…