We’ve become a first-draft culture. Write an e-mail. Send. Write a blog entry. Post. Write a presentation. Present. The art of crafting and then recrafting something well is disappearing in communications.
The first draft of anything is shit.
– Ernest Hemingway
It’s easy for us to get attached to our own ideas, so it’s good to have another set of eyes and ears to review them. The best way to get feedback is to host a screening before you present to test your messages. The screening should filter out any meandering structure, obstructed messages, and confusing language.
Keep an open mind and come to the screening knowing that you will probably need to rework at least some percentage of the communication that you labored over for so long. No one ever hears during the first review, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” Regardless of how relentlessly you worked, there will be changes at this phase. The information was created from your perspective. To the degree you are receptive to feedback from others you’ll be able to refine the receptivity potential of your material for others. The screening should influence and round out how you deliver your presentation.
Conway’s Law states, “Any organization that designs a system will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.” In other words, the quality of the communication your organization generates is limited to the quality of the communication of the organization itself. For this reason, a presentation’s quality will not exceed the quality of the planning process that precedes it. Therefore, to pull together a team who will give you honest, quality feedback for the screening may require you to go outside of your organization to get quality feedback.