When we hear “presentation”, our minds fill with images of awkward reports given in front of countless classes, or with reminders of the stress of developing a PowerPoint slide deck that meets whatever the current definition of “good” is. And we panic. What’s funny is that “presentation” can actually mean a variety of media; we just get locked in by the expectations given to us first at school and then at work.
The most important reason for creating a presentation is what motivated us to present – We present to share an idea, what we know or have learned. The results of practice or experimentation. We present to add to the body of knowledge on our topic, to give people with similar ideas and interests a reason to connect with us, to help future collaborators understand why they should want to work with us. We present to show what we know and what we can do.
When we present, we’re merely sharing on a public stage. That stage can take on many different shapes, and it can reach out to many types of audience. It may very well mean standing in front of people to share a lecture, a slideshow of information or images, or even the newest play. It can also mean publishing a book, writing a blog, or posting to one of tens of social media sites. We might even show off movies and webseries, if that’s the best form for our material. Because presentation is dependent on the material and the topic being presented, there is no one right way to present, and people are coming up with new methods and media regularly.
As we become more involved in creating our own online presence, we experiment with various ways to express ourselves, to show that we belong in the conversations we contribute to. Schools are starting to notice that, and some of the more forward-thinking ones are even trying to figure out how to prepare students to share their own knowledge and skills on this virtual stage. The ability to craft a good presentation, regardless of topic or medium, is going to become a more important factor in determining the paths our lives take.