Fellow trainers often ask me how I deal with requests from events planners or hosts to provide my PowerPoint presentation well in advance of the event. If you present at conferences and events you are going to have people planning the event ask you to send your PowerPoint in advance. This is usually because they want to load all the presentations onto one computer and run them off that computer at the event, or they want to create handouts of your presentation to put in a conference booklet. Sometimes they want to make sure you are prepared in advance. For speakers who have a canned presentation that is always the same, this may not be an issue. For me, it is a problem.
I do not like to send my presentations in advance and am adamantly opposed to using a handout version with 3 slides per page as a handout and I explain to the event planner why.
Some planners think I am reluctant to share my presentation to protect my intellectual property. While I do not want them giving my presentation to other people that is not my concern. There are a couple of reasons I am reluctant to send the presentation in advance of the event.
The main reason is that I always revise and tweak my presentations right up to the last minute. I revise and fine tune my presentation the morning of the event, after my workout. If I am the wrap-up or closing speaker I may revise it during the day based on material covered by the other speakers. I will also adjust during the day based on time issues. At one event where I was the closing speaker I was scheduled to speak from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.. It was 5:45 p.m. before I was introduced. Seeing that the event was running late and people were starting to fade I shortened my presentation by hiding some slides just prior to going up. I still covered the core message and key concepts; I just did it in less time out of respect to the audience. I would not have been able to do this if I was locked in to using the presentation I had sent a month in advance.
Whenever possible I like to use my own MacBook Pro laptop and hook into the projection and sound system rather than running my presentation off of someone else’s computer. I switched from PowerPoint to Keynote a number of years ago and have been using Keynote exclusively for the last 8 to 10 years. As a result I am no longer familiar with PowerPoint. I can certainly convert the presentation from Keynote to PowerPoint very easily, but it changes some of the fonts and slides requiring me to go through the entire presentation to check for changes and ensure any embedded videos still work. I use the Presenters View in Keynote and am comfortable accessing and using the Navigator scroll bar if I need to jump ahead a few slides. I am not an “Mac snob”, I just like to minimize that chances of there being issues with the presentation.
Regarding the handouts I believe that if the presentation is done effectively using PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi or any other platform then those handouts are useless as most simply contain a picture and maybe a few words. Also, it is not helpful to have people scanning ahead looking at what you are going to cover next. And because I change my presentation right up to the last minute what is in their books may not be what I am using during the presentation, which is frustrating for the participants. What people often want from my presentations are the quotes I use and a recommended reading list as I mention a number of books during my presentation. I will either have sheets there where people can sign up to get those resources or will send them to the event planner after so they can forward them to all the attendees.
I am not a primadonna who demands that I have my way or I will take my MacBook Pro and go home. My goal as a presenter is to be as low maintenance and as easy to work with as possible. Having said that it is my reputation on the line if there are issues with the presentation. I will work with the hosts and event planner and generally once I explain why I am reluctant to send the presentation in advance they are very understanding and trust that I will show up prepared and will do a great job for them. They are also usually willing to work with me so I can use my laptop. If that is logistically impossible they will usually allow me to provide my presentation on a USB drive the morning of the event to allow me to modify it up until then.
If you are not comfortable providing your presentation well in advance of the event then explain why to the event planner. Find out what their reasons are for wanting it and work with them to ensure their event and your presentation both go very well.
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