Today is the National Day of Prayer and I attended a community prayer breakfast. Several hundred attended with several community and church leaders speaking briefly and showing PowerPoint slideshows. I've been to tons of these type functions and this had to be the worst presentation I have ever endured. To be such a great cause and something that should be glorifying to God, it fell far short of the excellence that He calls us too. All due to the 4 P's: piss poor pitiful planning.
It was a breakfast and was supposed to run from 7:00 to 8:00 to accommodate folks getting to work on time. It started a little late and went downhill from there. The major problem was the technical difficulties with the PowerPoint presentations. Not starting properly or the wrong presentation running. Music from one presentation playing so loud you could hardly hear the speaker. There were many awkward dead spots due to equipment malfunction and not prayer time. The "tech" guy was constantly moving his mouse around the computer screen for all to witness his struggle. It was painful to watch.
The lesson: If you are going to require the valuable time of an audience, you had better spend the proper amount of preparation to do a proper presentation.
So here are my 4 P's:
Plan – The organizers of this event are all well-meaning, hard-working people with full-time jobs. But everybody knows well in advance when the National Day of Prayer is. This presentation didn't sneak up on anybody. Plan your timeline working backwards from your presentation. "Plan your work and work your plan." Give yourself plenty of time to do it right or don't do it at all.
Prepare – I once heard a rule of thumb about putting in 1 hour of prep for every minute of a speech (30 minute speech = 30 hours plan/prep/practice). Depends on the speech and depends on the person. But the pastor who told me this was a phenomenal orator. If you want to present, you must prepare. The amount of preparation will be directly proportional to the quality of the presentation.
Practice – This may be the hardest part. After putting in all the effort to develop and design your presentation, you feel like you know it inside and out. And the last thing you want to do is practice your delivery. On top of that, it does feel a little silly. But it matters. The greatest comedians in the world are great because of their impeccable timing and delivery. Practice, practice, practice.
Please – Please your audience. Just a pet peeve of mine. If the speaker hasn't Planned, Prepared, and Practiced…the audience most likely will not be Pleased. An audience is giving a very valuable asset called "TIME" in exchange for the information in the presentation. It is the speaker's job to make sure they are Pleased and satisfied when they leave.