Recently I took my son to a guitar store to shop for a new acoustic guitar. My son is an excellent guitar player and wants to expand into more production and performing. He needed the tool to do that, a performance caliber acoustic guitar. While he tried out different guitars I wandered around the store noticing the wide range of prices in guitars. One thought came to me: if you don’t know how to play the guitar then it doesn’t matter how much you pay for a guitar since even the most expensive ones won’t help you play the guitar. You have to know how to do that first.
Presentation skills work the same way. So often people get caught up in the latest, fanciest tool—a software upgrade for PowerPoint, Presi, a new projector. But if you aren’t very good on your feet in the first place then you’ll just become someone who is awkward, boring, disconnected, or sub-par using really expensive equipment. That’s as foolish as me paying top dollar for a guitar (unless it’s for my son) because I will still sound like a guy who can’t play the guitar.
Don’t fall for the trap that a gadget, technology, or some tool will make you a master presenter. First develop the skills of being good in front of the room using low tech tools—a flipchart, a handout, a model you can use for a demonstration. Work on mastering the basics: eye contact, voice control, body language, story telling. Then and only then does it make sense to expand into the world of technology. Until you become a strong presenter, complicating your presentation with a lot of technology and tools will not improve your presentation.
Here’s why: you are your presentation. When you get that, everything else serves you. Until you get that you wind up serving everything else—including your PowerPoint.
For the record, I bought my son a really nice Taylor acoustic guitar. When he brought it home, I picked it up just to test my theory. Sure enough, I still can’t play the guitar. Fortunately, he can.