Friday, 5 February 2016

Polar Bear Pitching - Ending Death by PowerPoint

Let’s face it, we have all been on the receiving end of overly long and boring pitches and presentations, delivered by someone with the charisma of a sloth on Valium.

But help may be at hand for us poor victims. And it comes from Finland.

The problem with presentations stems from the fact that tools like PowerPoint have made a lot people think they are good presenters, in the same way as Twitter has embolden people to think they are interesting or BMWs have convinced men they are good drivers.

But a tool is a tool, and in the wrong hands, it becomes a lethal weapon. Hence the well established expression “Death by PowerPoint”.

There have been some brave attempts at limiting the damage. For example, the former Sun Microsystems CEO, Scott McNealy used to force people to use old fashioned projectors and transparent foils instead of PowerPoint (because the Microsoft tool "clogged disks, bandwidth and brains").

More recently, we have seen the emergence of new presentation formats like PechaKucha 20x20, in which the presenter has to go through 20 slides lasting just 20 seconds each. This great format ensures that even the worse presenter will only inflict pain on their audience for a guaranteed maximum of 6 minutes 40 seconds.

But in everyday settings, like lecture rooms or offices, such formats only work if the presenter realises that their audience might not be quite as in love with their voice as they are themselves. And of course, that realisation never dawns on the worse offenders.

Enter a revolutionary concept from Finland: adding progressive discomfort to the presenter!

Next week, in Oulu in Northern Finland, some budding entrepreneurs convinced of the worth of their revolutionary new ideas will be pitching to potential investors while standing in a hole in the ice. You couldn’t get more Finnish than the Polar Bear Pitching concept: quirky, slightly bonkers yet eminently sensible!

Now just imagine if all the lecturers and corporate presenters in the world were made to deliver their PowerPoint masterpieces while standing in a bucket of ice... How many needless deaths would that prevent?

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