always prepare

Always prepare.

The other day, I gave the wrong presentation. 

Initially, It didn't seem like that big of a deal: it was not a formal talk and I was asked on the fly to do it at a weekly meeting. The group was smaller than usual. I knew everyone there, and didn't even have to stand.

Going into it, when I realized that I didn't have enough time to prepare something for the screen, I decided that, for a change from PowerPoint, I'd tell them the story. It was, after all, mainly a story to tell. I had done some work for a client that included teachable moments and maybe a template that others could use. It wasn't a scientific study or anything formal. It was my experience and what I thought about it. Did I really need to prep to tell my story?

In short: yes.

In hindsight, this all seems so obvious.

LÎlet du Gosier AP With really no idea what I was getting into, I stepped in to swim across.

LÎlet du Gosier AP

With really no idea what I was getting into, I stepped in to swim across.

I didn't prepare for the presentation that I wanted to give and so, that didn't happen. 

I may have mentioned most of the ideas that interested me, but in a disorganized jumble, including an image on the screen of the opposite of what I wanted to teach. It was part of the conversation, but not where I wanted anyone to land. And, it was the only visual!

That slide, and me rolling my eyes into the back of my head, trying to find my thoughts and hold onto them, as the thing became sand pouring through my fingers— these were the visual aids to my story. [sigh]

I have no idea what anyone experienced.

There were comments and questions and discussion following my "talk". So, there was impact. I raised issues. Though, I don't quite know which ones. Nor what anyone took away from the thing. 

Here's what I took away—

Your audience is not you. They don't have your experience, your context, your way of languaging things, your patience (or lack of). They don't have your concerns or interests or assumptions. They have theirs. Each one a planet of other to reach. To get there, you need to prepare the way you would for voyage. Because that's what it is.

And you're the guide, right? You're responsible for your passengers, and for the material you're looking to communicate.

You can't just show up and tell your story. Actually, you can, but you'll be unprepared, and who knows where that will lead you—or lead them.