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When You Die, Will You Discover That You Had Not Truly Presented?

I visited Walden Pond yesterday and I marveled at the fact that, over 150 years after living like a recluse in the Massachusetts wilderness, Walden Pond is a state park, Henry David Thoreau has an entire society of followers and high school teenagers take field trips to visit the place in the woods where Thoreau built his cabin. More than a century and a half ago, there was a two year span during which something profound happened in this spot.

Thoreau4  Thoreau2

I’m guessing that every single person reading this article has presented at some point in their lives – at a team meeting, in church, in front of an important client, in a court room, in a classroom, in a training room, in a lecture hall, in an online webinar, to their boss.

I’m guessing that some of the presentations you’ve delivered have been important.  I’m wondering if something profound happened when you presented? Was your presentation worthy of having a state park created on the spot where you presented?

Perhaps that’s setting the bar too high. Though to be sure, every presentation you give offers an opportunity to change someone’s thinking, an opportunity to have others do something differently or better, an opportunity to start a chain reaction – in short, an opportunity to change the world.

To build upon a phrase from Thoreau, when it comes to preparing your presentation, are you living your preparations deliberately?  Are you paying deliberate attention to what new or different things you want your audience to do? Are you paying deliberate attention to the experience you’ll offer to your audience?

In the end, presentations are meant to serve the audience. And if we haven’t served our audience, then we really haven’t presented, we’ve just talked (and wasted others’ time).


Standing there in the woods around Walden Pond, reading a quote posted near the spot where Thoreau’s cabin once stood, my one-track mind returned to the idea of presentations and the fact that so many of us give presentations and the fact that presentations truly can change the world.

And I wondered how any of us would answer this question: when you come to die (or at least when you come to the end of your presentation), will you discover that you had not actually presented?

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