How to make a presentation

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After attending two conferences in two weeks, each including a number of sessions, I have come to see some patterns in the conference presentation. This type of presentation is different than the normal business presentation. The latter is intended to convey information to get something. The former is intended to convey stuff to prove the presenter is really smart and important.

The recurring elements of the conference presentation I have observed include:

  • lots of bizarre facts
  • tangential perspectives
  • talk about all the people you know
  • refer to the places you have been to solve problems
  • draw seemingly insightful conclusions from a wide range of disparate facts and perspectives

The only optional element that I have noted is a clear message. Often it seems to be necessary for the listener to triangulate the facts, perspectives, etc. to determine what is being said. But is that wrong? No: after all you have a smart audience they can figure it out. If they can’t then they won’t admit it. The harder the message is to understand, the smarter the presenter must be!


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