When I was a kid, one of my favourite movies was The Wizard of Oz. Back in the day, there was no streaming on demand, so you had to wait until it was shown on television. With few channels available, that usually meant the the movie came to TV about once a year.
One of the pivotal scenes occurs near the end of the movie. [Spoiler alert if you still have not seen this 1939 classic!]
Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion return to Oz with the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. They bring it to the Wizard of Oz. He had previously promised that in return for the broomstick, he would grant them a ride home for Dorothy, a brain for the scarecrow, a heart for the Tin Man and courage for the Lion. (Refreshing to see a deal without any money exchanged.)
But the Wizard tries to stall. He tells them to return the following day.
While they plead with the Wizard not to send them way, Dorothy’s dog Toto notices some activity behind a nearby curtain. Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal that the Wizard is not who Dorothy and the other thought he was.
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” the “Wizard” yells in vain. He has been discovered and they see him for who he really is.
How many times do speakers say the same thing, at least implicitly?
- “Pay no attention to the man behind the PowerPoint slides!”
- “Pay no attention to the woman behind the Prezi animations!”
- “Pay no attention to the speaker behind the Keynote presentation!”
Many speakers hide behind their slides so that the audience does not focus on them. But the slides are not your presentation. Slides are a tool which, when used properly, can support you. But you are the presentation. The audience wants to connect with you, not 28 slides crammed with text and graphics.
We want to see you, not some PowerPoint monstrosity that forces us to read and ignore what you are saying.
And here’s the thing: When you show us the person “behind the curtain”, not only will we appreciate it, you will probably be pleasantly surprised by the person you meet.