Starting presentations from Why
Simon's simple but very important idea can be applied to many challenges we have, even the construction of a good presentation. In Presentation Zen I said that most ineffective presentations could have been prevented if the presenter had just asked two important questions before he began to prepare: (1) What's my point? And (2) why does it matter? Most presenters focus only on the what (information, data, more information...more data just in case) and then spend some time on the how (often resulting in the creation of typical bulletpoint driven ppt slides), but almost no time is spent really thinking about the Why. The Why is were we should start almost all projects, including presentations.
If you think about it, we don't ask Why enough. "Why am I spending loads of money and time on a college education?" Or "Why do I really want to pursue that job or why am I sticking with this one?" Thinking deeply about the Why is not an abstraction; it's fundamental. In life, and in business, we spend all our energy thinking and talking about the what and the how, complaining about what we don't have and what we'd do if we did. We rarely spend time thinking deeply about the why. Why are we doing this? Why does it matter? Why is it important (or not)? What is the meaning in the whole scheme of things? Part of the reason we suffer in our professional, academic, and even personal lives is we do not spend enough time first with the Why. How could your work (including presentations) and your life in general be improved if you spent more time first thinking deeply about Why?
NOTE: Follow TEDxTokyo LIve this Saturday (May 15)
You can watch TEDxTokyo 2010 Hit Reset live through their web-cast in both Japanese and English at from 9 AM to 6 PM on Saturday, May 15th. See the awesome list of presenters here. I'll be continuing to work with some of the presenters onsite the day before the event. Please tune in. Last year was remarkable. Follow the TEDxTokyo blog. Follow TEDxTokyo on Twitter. I will also be tweeting live from the event in Tokyo (mostly photos), you can follow me here at @presentationzen.