Pramit Nairi's Collection of writing
updated semi-regularly

17 January, 2013

Obfuscation and Convolution

I have the unenviable pleasure of sitting in a lot of meetings and being presented to. I've noticed that over the years the most effective presentations are the ones that get to the heart of the content quickly. Not a lot of backstory. No platitudes. No silly quotes. Straight. To. The. Meat!

This got me thinking: are there attributes about the presenter that determine the kind of presentation they give? Yes, I know it's obvious, but bear with me here.

As I see it, and for the sake of simplicity, there are two major camps. There are the folks who understand the topic, are passionate about it, and have crafted a tightly knit story on what they are speaking about. These are folks who aren't removed from the matter being presented and generally have a say in the smallest of details along the way. Their presentations make the point and are done. They're generally brief, concise, and easy to understand – regardless of how complex the topic. It's the kind of presentation that you step away from feeling good and having a clear sense of action. There isn't a sense of ambiguity.

Then there are folks who aren't experts. They're the kind who don't immerse themselves with the specifics and are often removed from the topic being discussed – they merely step in to speak. There's no passion, no real belief, and no real investment. These kinds of presentations ramble on, are full of platitudes, and generally have no clear direction. Oh, and they're great presentations for playing buzzword bingo to (my recent favorite was ""super micro-targeted messaging to get conversions".)

Where am I going with all of this? Good question. Looping back to the title of this post, "Obfuscation and Convolution", I'm hypothesizing that folks who use obfuscation and convolution as a tactic – one that's so blatantly obvious in their presentations – generally aren't the kinds of folks who lead the innovation charge. These are the kinds of folks who hide behind smoke and mirrors to keep their own lack of abilities and skills out of view.

Wrapping this all up: if you're ever trying to gauge who will lead folks to achieve greatness and create awesomeness versus those who will take folks around in circles and into silly mazes, just assess their presentations or presentation skills. The duds will separate themselves from the stars very quickly.