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How would you like that served?

April 14, 2011

We hear this question all the time from waitstaff. ‘Medium-rare’, I say. Others want their steak well-done, and while I think it’s a waste of that poor beast’s life, I try not to comment.

The point is, the chef has considered the diner’s needs and tastes. If only marketers could do the same. And I include PR and communication people in this group – in fact, anyone who is creating and sharing content.

What I’d like to see is a little more thought given to how the end user wants to consume content. Let me give you an example.

I recently went to a networking event with a couple of guest speakers. The company hosting it followed the time-honoured formula for these gigs: a PowerPoint on screen; a printed handout in a lovely branded binder on my seat. A research paper on the topic. They ticked all the boxes.

Problem is, the slides were awful. Wordy, distracting. At one point the speaker apologised for how ‘busy’ the slide was, and went on to use it anyway. WTF?

The binder full of expensive colour printing duplicated what was on screen, and led to distracted paper shuffling. Then I brought it back to my desk, where it’s still sitting, untouched. I’ll recycle as soon as I can get over the guilt of wasting it.

The second speaker had no slides. A high-profile Australian (she really does deserve the name ‘national treasure’), she shared her thoughts in warm and personal way. I’ll bet not one person in the room thought ‘gee, I wished she’d whip out some slides’.

My preferred scenario is this: if the presenter really wanted a slide deck, he would have asked someone like me to work on it. I’d have junked most of the words, thrown in some images and allowed some pertinent graphs to remain. If he needed notes, they’d be in the ‘notes’ section, for his eyes only.

Then the organisers would email me the research paper afterwards. I could send it on to whomever I thought was interested. It would be on the website too, so if I really liked it, I’d use the ‘share’ buttons and post it on Twitter. And no trees would suffer during this entire process.

Not only would this give the content more exposure, it would respond to the ways I actually consume information. Sure, I don’t represent everyone – so they could’ve had handouts to pick up on the way out.  Either way, they should have given some thought to how to get their message out, not just done whatever they’ve always done.

Maybe I should take them out for a steak.

(Confession: the same sentiment suggests I should consider blogs based on more than text – I’m just working through my hatred of seeing myself on video. I’ll see how I go).  


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  1. Some great ideas here for improving presentation-events. And I’m really glad to learn that “WTF” isn’t a cliche :).
    Personally, I’d rather read a blog than watch a video of a blogger; takes less time to read than to listen.

  2. eating too much staek, change your diet

  3. Danielle Tricarico permalink

    Here, here. I agree.

    I sat in the same presentation, and it was very distracting, between cluttered, wordy slides and flicking through handouts, it was hard to take anything in.

    Images are the new words – hasn’t anyone heard?

  4. Danielle Tricarico permalink

    No disrespect to your blog – which relies on the art of words!

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