The Fluttering Bird Flying to Nowhere

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I was conducting public speaking presentation training skills class in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. Oil Refinery kind of a cushy gig to get when your presentation skills coach. And I was working with five engineers one day, one of the engineers stands up delivers his PowerPoint presentation in the middle of the presentation. There was a little bird that fluttered across as a special effects in one of his slides by design. And this was around 2004. So so the special effects were not that sophisticated with PowerPoint or anything else back then, more than 15 years ago.

But it fluttered and I looked at the room and everyone's like, Wow, cool. He finished this presentation. And I asked people, what do they think they said, Oh, that was really cool. They were saying, How did you do that? How did you get that special effect? How did that flutter happen?

So we're all in agreement. That was pretty cool, right? That was interesting, right? That was a nice special effect. Right? Everyone agreed that that was a really interesting thing to have in the PowerPoint slide presentation.

But then I had to be the skunk at the party. I said, Okay. Now, who can tell me what the point of that slide was of that animation, that special effect? And anything on that slide, all of a sudden, all the hands that were up in the air went down. Then I asked another question, Who can tell me anything that your colleague said during that presentation, any message back number? Nobody had any idea.

So is that good to have special effects it is if you're trying to sell your ability to create special effects, or movies and other things, but it did not help this Particular engineer, talk about the specific problems he was trying to solve. As it relates to how he was redesigning elements, that part of the refinery. It didn't work. By definition, I tested it, no one could understand or remember the message. So here's what I want you to think about when it comes to special effects. Is it truly helping your audience understand your message more?

And remember your message. If it's just about boom, fireworks, it's not helping. Now, the special effects have gotten a lot better on PowerPoint and all sorts of other programs you can use to create presentations. But still, if someone wants to see flashy special effects, they can go watch a movie produced by Hollywood or Bollywood. A lot of places these days they don't need you. So my recommend Keep it simple, make sure you have simple images that make your message come alive and rememberable.

And don't waste time on the animation and special effects, unless there's a really good reason to do it. And it helps people understand and remember the message. Okay, so why do they tell that story just dramatizes how sometimes we think a special effect is really cool. But it's actually a waste of time. I try to convince people not to use special effects in most presentations most of the time, because in my experience, 100% of the time, you'll use that as an excuse not to rehearse their presentation, you're far better off, using your time to rehearse your presentation on video to make sure it's good. And to start down this black hole because once you start on a little special effect, even something as simple as little bird fluttering across, you can tweak it for the next 234 hours.

For 234 days, and human nature being what it is, you'll use that as an excuse not to practice not to video record, not to test your speech in front of other people.

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