We live in a world in which nobody knows how to do anything. What I mean is that capitalism is based on the idea of division of labor and the labor is divided as never before. With division of labor as great as ever, we have to connect via words, symbols, and electronic code. We have to connect via phone conversations, written reports, e-mails and instant messaging, blogs, micro-blogs, and via just plain water cooler conversations—and presentations, yes, via presentations. We have to speak publicly more now than ever.
Presentations are an extremely complex and expensive form of human communication. The interaction is relatively short but the combined time of all the people involved costs a lot. The only explanation as to why people continue to give presentations despite their complexity and cost is that they are also sometimes tremendously impactful. Also, sometimes, there's a lot at stake. People give presentations before commencing expensive projects and after finishing them. It makes sense to conduct extensive preparations in these cases, and there's almost no limit on how deep and wide you can go. You can rehearse, you can rearrange your slides, and you can research for new arguments in support of your point. So, whenever I am asked to “help with a presentation,” my first question is inevitably, “What is the presentation in this case?” Answers differ vastly.