Don’t lose sight of the dream.
It sounds cliché, right? But it’s one of those things that we need to remind ourselves of over and over again. I was reminded of the importance of the overarching vision while reading Richard M. Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences. In it, he says, “logic depends on the dream, and not the dream upon it . . . a waning of the dream results in confusion.” While his language from 1948 might be a bit dated, his ideas are not.
What do I mean by dream? I mean the big “why,” the reason for the presentation, the grand vision, the ends all means lead to, the foundational purpose. We can easily get caught up in the details. But what if our process of creating a presentation, from development to design to delivery, was tied into the dream? What if we started the process with this one question: how do I communicate this dream and make it contagious?
When you are in the stages of presentation development, it’s critical that you begin by articulating the dream. What is the grand vision behind this presentation? That might be easy to see for some presentations and not so easy for others. For example, if you are giving a presentation about a company-wide policy change, the dream may be hidden under the details. Don’t let this discourage you. Get curious. Why is the policy change happening? Will it make employees more productive or safe?
Tap into the underlying “why” to keep the dream in sight. Experts from Forbes tell us that “some of the greatest purpose-driven companies of our generation, like eBay, Stemcentrx, Tesla and Airbnb, have also produced some of the largest profits and highest valuations.” So keeping the dream in sight can be in direct correlation with profit.
This is the stage of presentation preparation in which the dream usually dies. Or at least is forgotten. Our presentation media or slides tend to be all about the details—the what, where, when, who—but we forget about the why at this stage. Weaver says, “We do not undertake to reason about anything until we have been drawn to it by an affective interest.” Translation? We don’t think about things until we care about things. Images can be one of the most powerful tools for helping you to communicate your dream. So design slides that make people care. That will, in turn, get them thinking.
Some of the best speakers are those who continued to keep the dream in sight throughout their speaking career. Take for example Steve Jobs. His company succeeded largely because he was able to clearly communicate the dream.
In their book, Becoming Steve Jobs, journalists Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli say that what distinguished him was his big dream. In 1977, Jobs articulated his vision to them like this: “Our whole company is founded on the principle that there is something very different that happens with one person, one computer . . . What we’re trying to do is remove the barrier of having to learn to use a computer.”
This purpose drove not only Apple’s brand, but it drove Job’s presentation style. He is known for passionate and engaging talks. His dream is clear and his energy is contagious. Want to watch him present? Check out his presentation launching the iPhone in 2007 now.
Articulate the dream behind your presentation, and then keep it at the forefront when you develop, design, and deliver. You’ll find that you can make decisions with greater clarity, and you can deliver from a place of natural passion.
At Ethos3, we’re here to support you at every step of the process: from development, to design, to delivery. How can we help with your next big presentation?
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