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Never believe the comment, "great presentation."

I always have enjoyed getting the comment "great job" after a presentation that I didn't think went very well. It made me feel better for the moment. The trouble is that we are all easily lulled into self deception. Most people just want to be nice, but those presentations were probably pretty bad.

Everyone needs to dry run their presentation with tough and honest critics. It is almost impossible to develop a comprehensible presentation without trying it out on someone who tells you the parts they didn't understand.

A few years back I was part of a team working on a major scientific proposal to a donor. The project leader was a distinguished scientist who was aghast at my suggestion that he dry run the proposal. "I've done hundreds of presentations," he said. Of course he probably got "great job" after those "hundreds" from people trying harder to be nice than honest. Needless to say, the donor presentation bombed.

Take your medicine early and often, then you can feel better about a compliment.

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