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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  You’re a Creative, So Act Like It


You’re a Creative, So Act Like It

Posted on March 5, 2012 and read 2,274 times

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michaelweiss You’re a Creative, So Act Like ItMichael Weiss
Managing Director
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You’re a creative. Even if you are not an “Art Director” or “Designer,” chances are you fancy yourself a creative thinker – an idea person  – a game changer – on the bleeding edge. According to Dictionary.com, creative “results from originality of thought, expression; imaginative.” That’s all of us in marketing and advertising, right? Can I assume that like me, you and your teams work tirelessly to impress your clients with your cool ideas? Your designs? Your wordsmithing? Then may I ask why so many of us drop the ball when it comes to our presentations? Why is that our presentations lack any imagination or creativity? Why do they have to be…so….so….bad?

As a digital agency exec for the past 15 years, I have participated in and witnessed hundreds if not thousands of pitches, presentations and speeches. Now as a consultant and paid speaker I travel all over the country visiting with agencies and clients, as well as attending different conferences and trade shows. Last week I was in the Speakers’ Lounge at an event chit-chatting with fellow presenters and was blown away from what I was hearing…

“I haven’t even looked at my slides yet.”

“I hope they sent the right deck.”

“I just finished my slides this morning.”

Really? This morning? You finished your slides this morning? How can you think you are going to give a kick ass presentation if you don’t even know your material? Do you think Louis C.K. makes up his jokes on the spot? No chance – I’m sure he adlibs, but most of it is written. Do you think Martin Luther King winged the “I Have A Dream” speech? Nope. And Steve Jobs? He spent countless hours preparing his iconic presentations and even more hours practicing.

Most of you are saying, “Yea, yea…we know.” But if you know, then why do you still do it? Why do you wait until the last minute to prepare your presentations? I know…you’re too busy. That’s not good enough anymore. I won’t accept that as an excuse. If you have the opportunity to present – be it a pitch or a client presentation – then you owe it to yourself and your clients to prepare and know what you are talking about. Because if you don’t, the audience will sense it and then you are in trouble.

We’ve all seen the bad presentation. The slides have no brand consistency; they’re ugly, distracting and use cheesy animations.  The audio is too low or too loud. There is no Internet connection… and the icing on the cake?  The presenter is disinterested and not really into it; in fact it is clear she doesn’t care.

Is that how you want to come across? I didn’t think so.

I always say that a presentation is not a meeting; it’s a performance. I don’t care if there are 10 people or 1,000 people in the audience. When you present, it is your job to engage the audience and inspire them with your knowledge and expertise. To educate them; to convince them; to wow them.

So rather than get overwhelmed and lose focus, here are some thoughts on how to better prepare for your next presentation:

  1. Don’t try so hard. You don’t have to tell the whole story. In fact if you do, you are going to run out of time, rush through, bore your audience or maybe all three. Find the most interesting, creative, differentiating points and talk about them; embellish them; stretch them out.  It will inspire you because it is the best part of your story and in return the audience will be engaged.
  2. Too many people rely on their slides. In fact they build their presentations around their slides rather than building their slides around their presentation. It’s the preparation of the slides that takes up the most time. So you know what? Get rid of them. Don’t use them. If you cannot get your point across without them then you should not be presenting in the first place.
  3. If you are going to use slides, then I suggest the following:
    • Sketch them out on paper first;
    • Then create a simple set of slides and practice your presentation;
    • Then get your creative team to make them look pretty;
    • Then edit and get rid of a third of your slides;
    • Then practice again and again and again….
  4. When you schedule the actual date of your presentation, mark off 5 days prior to be finished with all of your slides and preparation. Make that the LAST day you can make changes or edits or additions. After that day you are stuck with what you have put together. So get to know it!

It is never going to be an ideal situation. There will be times when you have 24 hours to present. All I am saying is, don’t just pull out an old deck, change some data and use it. Take a couple of hours to think through the purpose of the presentation and what you can do in a short amount of time to deliver something that shows your creativity – that’s the reason they called you in the first place.






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