It is the email I expect but dread as a regular speaker on the conference circuit. Often I am the opening or closing keynote. There to start the conference with some energy and challenging thoughts, or closing the conference pulling together the thoughts and ideas of the day.

So the email goes along the lines of  “Can you send me your slides so that I can put them on the website / conference pack / handouts?”

This is the wrong for SO MANY reasons. Here are just 4

  1. Slides do not convey emotion and get the message across as effectively as stories and props do. (But it is easier to write slides than think of a great prop to illustrate a point)
  2. I don’t use many slides, and those I do are mostly arresting, emotive images. So reading them ahead of times is pointless. The audience is there to listen to me and engage.  My mantra is “Think, feel, do”, not “Listen, read, sleep”
  3. If the organisers want me to challenge the audience in the keynote why ask me to show my hand early. The power is in the way the ideas are presented
  4. If the organisers want me to pull together the random thoughts and ideas from the day’s presenters in the final, how can I possibly do this weeks before the event

The issue is that some organisers think  Presentation=Slides. I think that this Dilbert cartoon sums it up

So please don’t be offended when you get a slide deck with consisted on ONE SLIDE with my name, picture, email and blog address.


4 thoughts on ““Can you please send me your slides…….” Doh!! #presenting #fail

  1. Ian, I fully agree what y ou are saying and have always thought it is kind of weird to send things in advance as the slides should not be the driver, it is the talk that you give and things that you sum up…. Good entry!

  2. OK, Ian. You got me thinking on this one. My position have been that slides *should* be put in a place for sharing before the meeting. This is based on the assumption that many presentations used within meetings are in fact informative, with tables and charts that are worth perusing. My position has been that the phrase “can you send me the slides” should never be heard because as an automatic part of preparing for the meeting, they have been shared.

    And sending them via email is evil:

    You bring two unsettling ideas. First, that there is no reason to share the slides. I know what you mean — many slides are just pretty pictures as a backdrop to the talk, and don’t by themselves convey any meaning. Probably a majority of my slides are in this category. Why should I share that, since without the words they are obviously meaningless.

    The requester might be holding out for the hope that there are notes that cover the subject of the talk.

    Second, the devious idea that you might distribute a different set than you spoke to. Great Idea! It could just be your name and picture, but it also could be something that covers the subject in a more literate way than the slides originally did. One horrifying thought though: this might mean that a talk may require the preparation of TWO presentation decks. Ugh!

    1. I think you’ve raised some excellent points. I think the answers depend on what sort of presentation you are giving. If it is essentially information giving – 3rd Q results, update on product strategy – then you are more likely to have slides with charts and diagrams. But most of my presentations are of the challenging / inspirational / motivational nature, which is why my blog is called “Making you think”. Therefore getting the emotions flowing, people laughing and thinking is more important. And that requires off the wall analogies, props and stories.

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