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Declare Your Independence! Ditch the Default!


The first time I heard the word “default” used in the world of technology, I wasn’t sure what the person meant. I hadn’t been in IT long and everyone else seemed to know what the guy was talking about but me. I was embarrassed to ask but eventually I figured out from the context that the “default” was the way a computer program comes up as originally programmed. The program can be changed, but it takes action on the part of the person using the program to change from the system’s default view.

Well in presentations, there are several “defaults” that seem to have become a part of how “everyone” does presentations. And in the spirit of Independence Day, we should all declare our independence from these defaults! What are they?


Ditch the Default Start

Don’t prattle on for your first five minutes talking about the weather or how the sports teams are doing or the circuitous way you decided on your topic for the presentation. That kind of small talk will not endear you to an audience during that crucial time when you’re making a first impression.

Instead – Start Strong

Begin with a story. Make a statement contrary to popular belief. Report an unsettling fact. Draw your audience in with one of these openings and tie the opening directly into what you plan to present.

Your audience will appreciate connecting with you and your topic faster and in or more engaging way.


Ditch the Default PowerPoint

Don’t open up your slides and start filling in the bullet points. Even Microsoft is encouraging people to stop using the default view!

Instead – Create Visuals that Reinforce Your Words

Use pictures that fill the slide. Make only one point per slide. Use just two or three words to represent the key point of a slide. Give people the space to listen to what you have to say. Give them a visual to help reinforce the point. Make the entire presentation much more visually engaging.


Ditch Impersonality

The default seems to be “all business” and no personality. Boring!

Instead – Be Real & Tell Stories

Business or not, we are all human beings. Be your true, authentic self. Tell stories that reveal some of who you are and how you think — provided of course that you can tie the story to a relevant point.  Use humor.  Let the real you come through so people feel like they’re getting to know you.


Declare Your Independence!

Don’t follow the crowds and keep on repeating what you see others do in presentations. If you don’t connect to their default ways when you are an audience member, what makes you think your audiences will connect when you’re the speaker?

Break free from the default and declare to the world that you’re going to be the best presenter you can be!