Turn around for a fresh look

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There's a nice park near the place where I live, so I occasionally (though not often enough, I guess), I go there for a walk. Due to the park's location and layout, I always end up going around it in the same direction. It has enough variation in terms of smaller sideways and alternative routes, but I've always been going on my round counter-clockwise without thinking much about it.

The other day, on a whim, I decided to walk my usual route the other way around. Which resulted in me coming up to corners and pathways and wondering where I was - until I recognised that I was in a familiar spot that only looked unfamiliar since I was looking at it from a different direction.

This is a familiar pattern. If you've ever been on one of the bigger airplanes, you've probably heard the phrase during the safety briefings, when they point out the emergency exits: Please keep in mind that the nearest usable exit may be behind you.

Or take that simple tip for photographers looking for an interesting motive: Turn around. Even if you just took a photo of something and you are in the process of walking away - turn around and look at the scene again from a new perspective. You may find a more interesting angle for your photo.

You can probably guess what's coming now: Have you ever tried applying the same change of perspective to your presentation?

Try starting with the conclusion. How would you have to structure your presentation if you stated your conclusion right at the beginning? We often use a buildup where the conclusion is the high point (and end) of our presentation. If you stated it up front, how would you keep your audience's interest for the rest of the time? You'll find that while the facts are the same, it'll require a very different approach. On top of that, you may also find that the presentation is now shorter than the "traditional" version, since you're no longer tempted to keep up the suspense and maybe draw things out too long. Which is why I recommend shaking up the order of a presentation when you find that it's too long.

Note that I'm not saying that you should actually deliver the presentation in that reversed order; although I'd strongly encourage you to at least consider it. For some formats, e.g. TED talks, this may just be the extra "kick" that the presentation needs. But even if you keep the original order, this change in perspective should give you some ideas on parts that you can shorten, bits you can leave out, and things you can explain better or in a more interesting way.

In the end, it's all about not getting stuck in a routine. Even if you've been down that path before, turn around and take a good look.

(Image by kaboompics, from pixabay, CC0)

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Creative Commons Licence "Turn around for a fresh look" by Dirk Haun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.