What we learn from History

It's post Christmas, and I'm reading a book I found under the tree.

Small Wars Far Away Places

I'm only a short way in to this fascinating account. Already I want to make a biopic or doc about Ho Chi Min (anyone want to commission  me?)  The Vietnam War was a constant on my TV during childhood but I really didn't understand it at the time, and until yesterday I still didn't. I now know a little more.

What's this doing on a blog about Presentation Skills? We'll get there.

Thanks to this Christmas present I now understand more about the carve up of former colonial territories which happened in the late 1940's and the mess that is still affecting millions of people today, and has killed further millions along the way.

Many territories, including what we now call Vietnam, were parcelled up at the Potsdam conference and others by people who's primary objective was rebuilding the shattered economies in Europe and North America. Decisions were taken without in depth local knowledge, with no understanding of the outcome and a belief that whatever the outcome might be it would not affect those making the decisions.

I'm no Historian and I can't understand why I find history fascinating now when I hated it at school, but I'd better leave the history to those more able to comment intelligently.

When we do anything without understanding the detail, or the consequences, the outcome will be suspect at best.

We're back to Presentations mow.

Without wishing to trivialise the bigger moments of history, every boring presentation I have sat through has in some way missed it's mark. Often the presenter's ability wasn't the problem; it was the basic tenet of the argument. Lack of knowledge, lack of concern for the outcome, and therefore a lack of connection to the audience.

How to fix that? As always: back to basics. Who are your audience, and what change do you want to see in them? I've forgotten this to my peril. You can avoid your own pointless war in a far away land by addressing some simple issues at home.

Richard Tierney coaches Event Organisers in Creativity, Messaging and Presentation Skills. www.IntrovertedPresenter.com 


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