Cut the Cord: Overcoming the Rise of the ChatGPT-Generated Presentation - The Pickering Group

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Cut the Cord: Overcoming the Rise of the ChatGPT-Generated Presentation

AI is everywhere, and it’s cropping up in more places, making some pretty convincing pictures, deep fake videos, and articles. The New Zealand Herald even briefly used an AI image as part of an article for International Womens’ Day earlier this year (note the meaningless detailing on the shoulder pads and the strange way of wearing the tie). 

Tools like ChatGPT are making the job of generating material a bit easier, but there’s something they can’t yet do: write (or deliver) a great presentation. But the reason why might not be obvious. And there are lessons in the great AI explosion that we can use to make our human-led presentations even better.

Inputs and outputs

In the last six months, I’ve seen at least four workshop participants who have clearly created their presentations via ChatGPT. 

It’s apparent as soon as they start talking. Their input must have been along the lines of “Write a five minute presentation on three aspects of leadership within such-and-such aspect of an organisation”. All they have to do is stand up and read it out.

Granted, the examples I’ve seen are for workshop exercises, but they represent only part of the story needed to make a presentation actually work.

Why not? Because presentations aren’t scripts. 

A good presentation isn’t built on recitation alone. That’s how you get the Reader archetype (State: Anxious; Impression: Uncertain; Audience Impact: Boring). You need to be able to work the points of a presentation, not recall a script.

Secondly, a good presentation means taking ideas – your ideas – and sharing them within an organisation to achieve a certain purpose. That purpose tends to be to inform, and/or to persuade. (Even if you want to inspire your audience, then that’s a kind of persuasion.)

As brilliant as these text tools are, they’re not an effective replacement for good presentation text and good ideas. The content they generate is pedestrian, depersonalised, average, indifferent. It has no skin in the game. And it doesn’t know everything that you do; it can’t understand the context and clues and expertise that you have to tell it effectively.

Bring your human-ness

A good presentation asks you to bring something of yourself – preparation, and good ideas, yes, but also that special something that AI can’t convincingly replicate yet: your unique personality.

So what can you do? First, avoid AI tools where you can. They can be helpful for simplifying big ideas down or finding a good synonym, but if you can’t be bothered to write a presentation, then I can’t be bothered to listen to it.

Then, know your stuff. That’s generally also why you’ve been asked to deliver a presentation: because you know your material! So be confident in your ideas and material, and speak without a script in hand. And those fumbles, slips and repetition? All too human, and part of what we sign up for – so give yourself permission to err.

Which brings me to one of the most important points: own who you are. Being ‘authentic’ gets talked about a lot, and it’s little wonder why – because most of us would rather have a flawed presentation, delivered with enthusiasm by you, than a bad impression of a good presentation.

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