A few days ago I got an email from a friend who was watching a talk that I did earlier this year. It had been recorded, and he was anxious to tell me about various notes he wrote during my talk.
When he asked if I’d be interested in reading his thoughts on the presentation, I replied “sure!”, but I didn’t know that he was referring to notes about my presentation style, not technical content.
I started reading his notes, and the first thing he had to say was about a slide that I had, with way too much text on it. He then went on to explain why that was a bad idea and what an audience member might think.
He was actually telling me all the things that I had already knew about presentations, and the Dos and DONTs about doing them.
My first reaction was the wrong one. I started thinking, “who’s this guy to tell me how to do presentations?? I’ve been presenting for the past several years with some good scores, and I’m a good presenter, so why should I even listen to him?”
I have a big ego. You see. Big enough that it sometimes clouds my judgment. I tool a breath and said to myself “Roy, you are starting to believe your own hype. Get over yourself and read why this guy is telling you. Put ego aside, and LEARN something.”
It was quite hard, I admit. But reading through his email I realized that all his pots were dead on. I was definitely doing some DONTs in my talk, and even though the talk went along fine, there were points that I could definitely learn from for the next talk.
My lesson for today: Get over yourself. Everyday you can learn something from people, even if you think you already know it. Always say “yes” when someone asks if they can give you some pointers, and shut the hell up until the said everything. Say “Thanks” and then process it all on your own, in the comfort of your own ego. Give it time, and it will sink in – you are not as amazing as you think, but you can get better by listening.
Here are some pointers to presentation tips: