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THE ELECTRONIC HALLWAY TM NETWORK A PRODUCT OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE CURRICULUM EXCHANGE Among the most common forms of professional discourse, and one of those with the most value at risk per minute, is the presentation. This is an “extended holding of the floor” like a lecture [Goffman], but usually directed towards causing the audience to adopt a position or opinion on some issue facing an organization, rather than merely building understanding or insight. Usually a presentation combines talk and exhibits such as overhead projector slides; indeed, the term presentation is often used to refer to the slides alone. A large craft-skill literature advises us about presentations. Like much craft knowledge it includes contradictions, untested well-meaning advice, completely wrong-headed propositions, and some real pearls. Fortunately, this is not rocket science; good presentations mostly need a disciplined attempt at setting purposes and empathy with the audience. [RAND] is a fairly prescriptive but useful short review with a bibliography. Many essential qualities can be summarized in the form of a checklist. In preparing a presentation, it’s useful to review a list like the following, if only to note things you want to choose and design purposefully rather than leaving them to chance. This Note combines attention-focusing questions with some of the aforementioned craft knowledge and advice (the latter in italics). Purpose Why are you doing this? Do you want the group to vote on the spot to approve your budget or scheme, or to realize what a good plan you have after a week or so of mulling it over? Are you trying to provoke conflict and division among your enemies so they can’t unite against you, or to unify a fractious team? Do you want to make yourself look really smart, or dumb enough to be harmless? Self-indulgent–or defensive–showing off is one of the most common ways to undermine a large purpose in this kind of event. Many of these purposes are inconsistent, so pushing for A when you really need B can often hurt you badly. It helps to frame purposes strictly in terms of the actions you want others to take after the presentation, and not in terms of what you want to do in the talk itself. This teaching resource has been provided for subscribers of the Electronic Hallway system with the express permission of
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This note was uploaded on 07/13/2008 for the course PAM 2300 taught by Professor Avery,r. during the Spring '06 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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