It’s Monday night at my house. The Bachelorette is on, my daughter is blissfully happy, and I’m sitting here all awko-taco trying to make sense of all the uncomfortable feelings I’m having. There’s loud kissing, extended hugging and people reading poems about feelings. The only thing that brings me calm in this moment of internal chaos while watching JoJo extend invitations to the fantasy suite is to think about the possible presentation wisdom we can extrapolate from this very upsetting series of televised events. The great news is that there actually is some!
At its most basic level, The Bachelorette is about editing…which happens to be one of the most important steps in the presentation planning process. Presentation experts agree that two of the biggest mistakes made in presentations are that there is too much detail, and the presentations are too long. As presenters we must thoughtfully edit to ensure only essential information that is tailored to the audience and focused on the goal is included in our presentations. This is can be a challenging task, much like The Bachelorette faces while trying to narrow her field of suitors. And while The Bachelorette is editing done in the context of seeking a romantic relationship, the process (and related emotions) for editing for presentations is much the same.
Let’s go there.
The goal is at the center of all your editing decisions. For JoJo, our bachelorette, the goal is a lasting loving relationship. As JoJo moves from episode to episode through the editing process she is continually evaluating her choices with this goal in mind. As presenters, we should follow this same guideline. If information doesn’t align with our goal, it isn’t a good fit for the presentation. Sometimes it’s tough to come to that decision, especially since you are likely an expert in your topic area, and there is so much fantastic information that could be shared. You can see The Bachelorette grappling with these types of issues as well. Is it cool to be handed a giant stuffed heart by a guy who’s interested in becoming your “Man Crush Monday”? Well maybe, but does JoJo see a real future with this guy? Probably not, and so he must go.
It’s easy in the beginning. I begin my presentation planning process by brainstorming as many ideas as possible that relate to my topic.
After that initial mind-mapping exercise, I find it’s fairly easy to eliminate some of the ideas that won’t logically help me achieve my goal. It’s the same story for the bachelorette. In the beginning she has a large number of potential bachelors to choose from, and a certain percentage are easy to rule out because they clearly don’t line up with her goal in any way. Some aren’t there for the “right reasons”, some she just doesn’t feel a connection with, and a couple are just downright weirdos. Santa Claus guy? Just, no.
Sometimes you need to sleep on it. As the sun goes down after a busy day of group and individual dates, The Bachelorette sometimes lacks clarity about what to do next. Frequently after a good night’s rest she reports feeling ready to take action. It can be helpful to take a bit of time to “sleep on it” after you’ve narrowed down your key points to a reasonable number, too. Take a brief break from the process and then come back to it to see if you arrive at the same result or can even edit a bit further.
Call for reinforcements. The Bachelorette may call in trusted friends to offer their feedback and advice, especially if she’s feeling particularly conflicted. It is helpful to get the insight of others who aren’t so close to the project. This is a great strategy for presentation editing as well. Grab your presentation buddy and ask them to help you work through what should stay in the presentation and what will go. Make sure they have a clear understanding of your presentation goal before you begin.
It’s okay to cry. It’s reasonable to include between 2-6 key points per presentation. Jamie and I strive to have 3-4 key points whenever possible. Yes, you read that right. It’s sad news, I know. It’s so very difficult to whittle down all you know and want to share about a topic to this very small number. It’s physically painful most of the time. However, we know that presentations aren’t great for transferring large amounts of information from the presenter to the audience. You can expect that audience might walk away with perhaps two or three pieces of information that they were able to connect with and understand. If you edit your presentation well, you’ll be able to decide exactly what those two or three pieces of information are. The payoff is huge, but it is far easier said than done. So it’s okay to cry. The Bachelorette does it, and so can we.
Have a system for documentation. The Bachelorette uses roses to keep track of those still in the running. I like to use sticky notes to organize my key points. I write down one idea per note and group similar ideas together. The Bachelorette keeps the limo ready for those going home, and you should be ready to say goodbye to some of those sticky notes as well. I find using sticky notes as opposed to a single sheet of paper with many notes helps me to stay a bit more focused and organized.
Limit alcohol intake. Okay, this one is just for fun. But seriously, excessive alcohol intake has never been a winning strategy for bachelorettes or those planning presentations.
Once you get there, it’s pretty awesome. When it comes down to the final rose, The Bachelorette and her selected bachelor disappear into the sunset to begin their charmed life together. The Bachelorette seems to always report that the process, while painful, was worth it because it got her exactly where she wanted to be in the end. Once the final decisions have been made regarding your key points and you can clearly see how they’ll get you to your goal, that’s when all the fun begins for you, too. You’ll be able to start thinking about how you’ll bring this information to life for your audience, whether it be through stories, analogies, activities, etc. The possibilities are endless.