I spent many years in corporate life sitting through both presentations and meetings. I've also run a lot of courses on how to deliver effective presentations and how to organise and run successful meetings. One thing I've learned is that presentations and meetings tend to have a lot in common - and not in a good way.
- They're often organised without any clear purpose or outcome in mind.
- They usually consist of one person passing on information to other people who have little interest in it.
- They usually take place because someone in authority decides they should happen, not because the people involved want or need them.
- The people who have to attend spend most of their time wishing they were somewhere else.
- Often, even the person delivering the presentation or chairing the meeting also wishes he or she didn't have to do it but they had no choice in the matter.
- They nearly always go on longer than expected because no-one really knows how to bring them to an end.
- People are often expected to deliver presentations or chair meetings as part of their job but get no specific training in how to do it properly.
- There is technology available to help but most people have no idea how to use it effectively.
- Organisations develop a "culture" (which is a fancy name for "habit") of how to run meetings or presentations and people copy what they see everyone else doing, which perpetuates the bad practice.
A cynical view? Possibly. Accurate? In my experience, definitely!
It amazes me how many organisations still allow poorly organised or badly thought-out meetings and presentations to take place, soaking up hours of people's valuable time and costing huge amounts in terms of staff costs. They would see a great return on investment if they questioned the way they do things and just gave people some basic training to help them improve the situation.