The study of public speaking began in Greece well over two millennia ago. Discussions and debates in political assemblies, courts, and marketplaces demanded refined strategy for compelling larger audiences. To persuade people, early philosophers determined a combination of three core elements was necessary: credibility, logic, and emotional appeal.
Today, presentations are an ubiquitous and anticipated feature of all public speaking environments, both live and virtual. Presentations are a sequence of slides; conceptually, they are very primitive, but impossible to replace. Slides in a presentation distill the three core elements from a larger discussion—they tell people what to think. When an audience member is lost in the speaker’s verbal delivery, they are put on the path to persuasion by the visual slide which contains the crux of the current argument.
Creating a sequence of slides should be simple; a speaker would take key arguments and delineate them briefly on the each slide. If presentations are ingenious complements to a compelling public monologue, then why do they fuel a thriving market of contempt?
The answer is brief: effective presentations are not simple to create. Professionals in academia remind students presentations are visual complements; reading off a slide is wrong, including too much information on a slide is wrong, creating presentations without pictures is wrong, and including vague diagrams is wrong. In fact, would anyone admit to having seen a presentation that succeeded in furthering the goal of persuasion?
Why presentations? Why slides?
The role of a slide in perpetuating persuasion is sound; slides do belong in the public speaking space. The way we treat and create presentations is wrong. Presentations are often private assets tied to the individual. In the same way the speech you give is your own, the presentation you create is inseparably yours as well. If a public speaking event involves multiple speakers, a presentation is often shared, but—crucially—slides are not. To that extent, slides are crude. They have not undergone review, revision, or reorganization orchestrated by a team of peers.
Modern presentations are books without editing; code without review.
If books, code, documents, and other core media can reap the benefits of peer review, version control, and optimization over time, then presentations should be subject to the same rights. Through presentation management, these fundamental tenets are available to presentations. Slides are collaborative products with data-driven support for continued reuse and optimization into the future.
Businesses and entities leveraging presentation management need not remind their constituents of the silly academic advice for making presentations just bearable. Their presentations exceed expectations with concise, consistent, and effective messaging for truly compelling arguments.