From high school until now I’ve often wondered why those giving presentations and writing reports have to be so verbose and bloviate about their subject. I understand that there are subtle points that have to be talked about and some subjects have to be discussed in painful detail, to get the information across to those that are dull, stupid, or lazy (me in high school)at times.
I’ve sat through seminars, workshops, classes, and read reports that did nothing but put me to sleep. The information that I gathered in them was minimal, at best, and I wasted hours of explanation for one or two nuggets. And at the end, sometimes, I was more confused that I was to begin with.
When giving a presentation or writing a report I’ve always, even when not knowing I should, attempted to be brief in what I said. I explained it as best as I could and then left it up to the participants to act as adults and ask questions.
The mentality of ‘I want it now’ is useless and far too many adults have fallen into that trap. So I have made a career in cutting corners and getting to the end of the problem or issue quickly. Is that a failing? Probably, but I do take time to do it right the first time.
Many people , , believe that if they talk for a long time and with nothing new to say, or write about, they can make us appreciate their expertise and to be thankful for the money we’re paying them, in short they are trying to justify themselves. And that helps no one except their bank account.
One of the things that I like to pride myself on when I give a presentation or write a report, is two different but effective methods of giving information to anyone. I’m sure you’ve heard of the KISS method. Keep It Simple Stupid. The other method I use is called the Socratic Method. The basic concept is make the participants train themselves. It keeps them engaged in what you’re presenting. Ask them open ended questions, not just yes and no. A couple of other things I’ve learned are these.
Don’t be verbose. Tell your audience what you came to tell them. If it’s CEO’s or front line employees it doesn’t matter, if you talk too long and start getting into minutiae, you’ll lose your audience.
Granted, if you’re talking about physics that’s one thing. But if you’re teaching security officers or running a seminar in WPV for senior management you don’t have to do that. If they get bored, they’ll never listen.
One last thing that I don’t like doing in a presentation or report is use ‘dem big 25 dollar words’, it confuses people! I don’t use words like that unless there is an absolute need for them. Obfuscate, contraindications, bloviating, and verbose, are not words people encounter very often. Again, if you’re talking to CEO’s, then it’s possibly okay. But if you’re talking to front line employees, don’t do it.
You also have to know your audience when you present your material. And most presenters don’t know or care about who they’re talking too, the presentation is all the same. Be it for college grads or high school drop outs.
The same holds true for written reports, especially in the security field. Most C-suite executives, business owners, or client contacts absolutely refuse to wade through a 200 page report on security, unless a deadly incident has occurred and they are going to court.
I have learned in my 32 years that if you write a report that is short and succinct then it is more than likely to be read, and understood, than a 200 page one. And that goes for everything except highly technical items i.e. specifications and etc.
I once wrote a report on a security survey for a client. The client didn’t think that it was complete enough because it was only 12 pages. So they spent upwards of $20,000 for a report from a ‘professional’ consulting firm. It said the exact same thing that mine did. There were only two differences. The Report was over 100 pages and the Plant Manager and the corporate staff didn’t read it all. They neither had the time or inclination to do so.
In conclusion I can say that if you are conducting a workshop, seminar, or writing a report make it short, sweet, and to the point. No one, and I do mean no one, wants to read or listen to something that resembles ‘War & Peace’. And for the presentation?
Change it up; don’t keep repeating the same thing, unless it is imperative to do so. Make it as short as you possibly can and still present the required information in a coherent manner.
In the end your audience, written or spoken, will thank you for not wasting their time trying to obfuscate the facts or bloviating until they are sleeping.
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/oneistoomany here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues.