I was flying off to Somewhere to present on Something to Somepeople and found myself at an airport with more time than I could humanely kill. It was on that same day that I invented the word, “chronoanasia,” or time-killing. While foraging for something to fill both my gut and intellect, I popped for a roll of Necco candy wafers and a small paperback called, Making Presentations. The latter, a 70-page quick-read on tips to improve your presentation skills by improving on rehearsing, research, planning, preparation, performing, and visuals, seemed an appropriate selection since, if you started this story from the beginning, you will recall that I was flying off to Somewhere to present on Something to Somepeople.
By the time I had hit the third yellow wafer (which, by the way, does not necessarily relate to any naturally occurring flavor that is yellow in nature), I also hit upon this pearl on “Selecting Key Points.”
Well, I thought that alone was worth the seven dollars (for the book, not counting the Necco wafers). And like all bits of information, I immediately thought how I could best share that pearl with those of you whose lifeblood is making presentations, proposals, and pleas–all you readers of Exceptional Parent magazine. http://www.first-takeuk.com/
The life cycle of parents of children with special needs is embedded with presenting: presenting your child, your case, your situation, your needs, your fears … your world. Each time the exceptional parent encounters a new horizon, a new milestone, or a new transition, it’s “show time.” It starts with “presenting” to physicians and invariably to other physicians. Then you “present” to family members, to therapists, to school officials, to teachers, to insurance administrators, not to mention, “presenting” to the person who cuts your hair, the person who delivers the mail, and the person who approaches you in the mall. Of course, the nature, context, and stakes of these presentations all vary.
Based on the advice by Tim Hindle, the author of Making Presentations, it almost appears to be a lost cause. Given the short attention span, the small degree of absorption, and the limited amount of deliverable points (and that’s in a formal setting where the audience has made an effort to attend, presumably, because it’s in their best interests, i.e. education seminar, corporate briefing, self improvement), you’re doomed before you begin. Most of the presentations exceptional parents at first take uk have to make are to people who very often have a vested interest in finding ways to dismiss, diminish, or deny your points, concepts, and message.
In terms of Hindle’s advice to “find a catchy title that sums up your speech” how about these: “Give me a reason not to handcuff my son to your desk,” or “You might want to learn how to deal with him, since his sister will be here next year.” While those two “openings” are “catchy,” they may not adhere to Hindle’s last suggestions to “avoid being too clever or too obscure.”
Exceptional parents have apparently refined and perfected their presentation skills over the years. Your presentation skills have resulted in new laws, new funding, new attitudes, and new ways. Your legacy of “media training london” are “presents” to the next generation of exceptional parents. Exceptional presentations are not always conducted in formal settings, behind podiums in large auditoriums or lecture halls. Some of the most effective, memorable, and compelling “presentations” have been made in parking lots, hallways, elevators, over lunch counters, and on sidewalks. Unlike the sites of many “corporate presentations,” most exceptional parent presentations are not given on the golf courses, in a boardroom, or at a cocktail party.
The advice to “limit yourself to three or four main points” is a no-brainer. At the heart and soul of every parent’s presentation and regardless of the need being presented, there is one, and only one, real point. Despite the 45 minute attention span of the audience, and the one-third information overload mark, and the seven concept-saturation threshold, there is one, and only one, point that needs to be made: “These are our kids, and we will prevail.”
It’s a point well taken and one worth presenting over and over again.