The worst presentation I have endured in my entire life…

University festival of design, last night I went to the open evening and I wanted to share my experience!
I arrived a little late to a packed lecture theatre with a still atmosphere as the first keynote speaker was introduced. He was a design engineer from mobile phone manufacturer, a 30 something who had been at the company since his first job as a tester, which he got whilst studying. During the following hour the audience were subjected to the most dry, boring and drab journey of this uninspiring, un-engaging individual. I often refrain from criticising others, especially when they are qualified individuals, respected within their profession.

This chap had all the qualifications, had some great experiences over his career and holds an influential role, but I have to tell you this was the worst presentation I have endured in my entire life. What was the point to the keynote… Your guess is as good as mine, I learn’t some trivial information about his early years, about where his office was, how many cars he has and all of his qualifications. Maybe I had missed the point, but speaking to everyone after it was a widely shared opinion that is was truly terrible. Had it not been for the second keynote speaker who totally got it I would have been asking for my time back! He showed passion, energy, told an engaging story and awakened an audience who had been left in a coma from the first guy.

This made me realise that despite good qualifications, experiences… and before you are fighting this mans battle he said he was an accomplished presenter around the world to teams and schools, this was a ‘keynote’ for this there are no excuses. He was unable to read or engage the audience, prepare a good presentation and deliver with any zest what so ever. To top it off, the most awful PowerPoint slides made this a memorable event for all the wrong reasons.  This becomes even funnier as the event was about celebrating design innovation! Shocking.

So, I was hoping that the student’s work would make up for this… I was drawn to the sustainable graphics and packaging course grads, in a small room was a dozen or so people from another Uni, and a mix of standards. Some good concepts and ideas with poor execution, and vice-versa.

Now sat in the gardens waiting before my next meeting I remember two individuals; One, a young chap who’s work was already at a commercial level, he talked with a clear drive and an understanding of the subject. I have no doubt he will find work and will be an asset to whom he joins. The other was a mature student, an ex designer in an advertising agency who had created an interesting concept, a working retreat for designers to escape. An environment to learn, reflect and design in a harmonious way. Aptly named ‘The tree house’. I would love to see this concept become a reality, so I can take my team for some ‘time out’ whilst still producing project work. I am compelled to help connect her to a few contacts that I think can help her pull this off.

It’s a great idea, and I am sure many design teams would love to spend a day or two to re ignite their passion for their craft, which is often lost in the hubbub of the working environment. The 4 hour event soon flew by and had filled me with excitement, knowing there is good talent coming through. With the lasting bonus, experiencing how not to present! Something I hope I will never be responsible for inflicting to an audience in the future! Sorry Mobile phone man, but please, please,  ‘step it up’ or stop presenting!

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