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How putting on a presentation is like learning a language

No stopping sign in NYC

Me: (to chairwoman) Gotta be honest, at about the half-way mark, I mentally checked out and started planning my vacation.
Her: (laughing) No problem, I do that all the time.

As parta my real life, am a member of a number of committees. Mosta them are fine – can usually sit back and enjoy some simple carbohydrates and write in my head while people talk – but one committee I’ve been working with has a big presentation to do.

The thing is, they’re all experts in their field, which’s great, but this doesn’t make them experts at putting together a presentation.

We’ve all sat through a terrible presentation before, yeah? The presentations that ramble on and on without a clear agenda or salient point. My personal feeling’s that putting on a presentation’s like learning a language.

The way language should be taught’s by teaching a grammatical structure first. Once the basic outline of a sentence construct’s done, you can just swap out vocabulary.

English: The more I ______ the more _________I am.
German: Je mehr ich _______ desto mehr ________ich.
Chinese: 我越____我越___.

English: The more I eat, the more fat I am.
German: Je mehr ich esse, desto mehr Fett ich.
Chinese: 我越吃我越胖。

Basically, if you want a good presentation, y’gotta have the clear topic/point first, then a clear structure, then everything else. In this committee everyone started talking about all the big name people they could get to speak without figuring out how it was going to be structured.

This actor named Herbert Beerbohm Tree once said that A committee should consist of three men, two of whom are absent.

So I made myself absent going somewhere else in my head.


Him: So I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you have no cavities.
Me: Oh that’s great. I brush my teeth four times a day.
Him: Well, that’s the bad news, you’re brushing way too much. Can’t remember the last time I said that to someone.

My dentist’s trying to get me to wear braces – he says that since I have pretty straight teeth, it would only be for a few months to make them perfect. Don’t know if most people need perfect teeth. Good enough is good enough, I’m thinking.

Well, I suppose it’s something else to put on my list of self-improvement.

Location: in fronta the manuscript
Mood: excited
Music: don’t believe in anything but myself

4 replies on “How putting on a presentation is like learning a language”

Herbert Beerbohm Tree is one of my favorite actors. no wait I might be thinking of someone else. haha.

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