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Lighthouse - November, 2018.

A Unique Presentation

If you think that presentation is all about how others see you, then perhaps it’s time you reassessed your opinion. You may well ask, “Why” because surely the importance of how others receive your presentation is paramount? Well this was undoubtedly the case before the advent of the internet. In simple terms, if you presented someone with a fancy and beautiful box of chocolates, they were more impressed than if you gave them exactly the same chocolates in a brown paper bag. Case proved – presentation matters!

So, what has the internet done to change this? Basically, it has stopped many of us thinking about the actual presentation and made us more focused on ourselves. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat etc., constantly bombard everyone with information about others. In many cases this creates jealousy within us. Why can’t we have the lifestyles of David Beckham, Deepika Padukone, Emma Watson or Shahid Kapoor etc.? Consequently, instead of naturally thinking about the effect our presentation has on the recipients, the focus has shifted. There is now a tendency to place more importance on our own importance. The internet has been educating us, through our on-going interactions with social media, that we are all equally unique and correspondingly important. Otherwise, how do you explain the need to gain more followers on Twitter or more likes on Facebook than anyone else?

It used to be accepted that people might normally have a unique talent in one particular skill. Consider the university professor who was brilliant at maths but known to be quirky and eccentric in most other things. However, many now believe that being unique, in one area, allows them to claim some right to have a valued opinion in others. This has led to celebrities, who are only known for their singing or acting abilities, telling us how we should vote politically or what toothpaste we should use!

It is true that the meanings of words change over time but let’s look at ‘unique’. Its original meaning was: –
‘Being only one of a particular type or having no equal’.Obviously such a definition completely excludes the possibility of there being more than one. Applying this logic how can we all be unique?

This idea of uniqueness and individuality, with its implied sense of self-importance, has worryingly started to result in the breakdown of team spirit. You only have to look at football and the way a main celebrity player attracts all the credit, as well as the money! Invariably their ‘uniqueness’ causes friction, within the team, who have to live under the celebrities shadow. In our workplaces, if we all believe we are unique then it restricts our ability to receive or give advice and perhaps come up with ideas, because others are afraid to compromise our uniqueness. This philosophy makes us more resistant to being told we might have got something wrong or that there is a better way of doing things.

The current global state of politics highlights this, especially in America and the United Kingdom. A topically trending ‘meme,’ (the name for an image, video or piece of text, typically humorous that is spread rapidly via social media) shows ‘NPC’ (non-player characters) protesting how they are all unique. The absurdity of computer-generated random characters having some sort of influential uniqueness is laughable. But consider this:- ‘Every snowflake is unique but it has totally no individual effect in a snowstorm’.

So where does this leave us? To adapt a famous quote:-‘No person is an island, entire of themselves, because everyone is a piece of the continent.’

In order to better ourselves, and also help others, we mustn’t allow the internet to suck us into being isolated from the needs of others. Not everyone is interested in knowing about our recent stay in hospital, even though we got hundreds of likes on Facebook. The recent pictures posted of a Seychelles holiday might have got hundreds of likes, however the chances are some were really envious and, even though they posted ‘like’ actually disliked them! Consequently, it would have been better not to post them because doing so caused envy. As the well-known logic goes, this negativity might well come back and bite you when you least expect it.

Good interactive presentation still relies on the premise that the importance of the recipient comes first and foremost. We must shrug off our feeling of self-importance and uniqueness. Resetting the threshold, raising the bar when self-importance kicks in, will give us a better perspective about our family, friends and colleagues. Interestingly the Victorian-era theatrical English partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan summed up the dilemma very well, in these lyrics from their 1889 comic opera, ‘The Gondoliers’. It’s probably well worth keeping them at the forefront of our minds.

‘When everyone is somebody, then no one’s anybody’.

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