• Scott Stiefvater

The worst thing about mainstream presentations: what they do to time.

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

By mainstream presentations I mean the one-way, linear and slide-heavy kind. The ones born out of a write-and-recite process in which slides serve largely as a script surrogate.

The presenter's 'my time' concern.

In this mainstream approach, we presenters feel that our time is more precious than that of our listeners. 'How much time do I have?' we ask. Like many things owned, we typically like having more of it. If the speaker before us goes long, they've robbed us of our time. Time limits are a constant concern: How much time do I have left? I have all my content to go through and barely enough time.

Listeners in the present. Presenter in the past.

If our listeners aren't daydreaming or distracted, they are typically in the present moment processing what we say as we are saying it. In the mainstream approach though, we presenters are in the past thinking about the words and slides we scripted days earlier. Consumed with the script, we are strangely separated from our listeners by time.

Waste of time.

The underlying speaker-centrality of mainstream presentations has speakers wasting a lot of time with content that is irrelevant to the listener. If I speak to ten people for one minute, eleven minutes have been consumed (one of those minutes applying to me). If I begin, for instance, with a one-minute, let-me-tell-you-about-myself introduction and the listeners don't find it relevant, I have wasted eleven minutes.

Changing our approach.

To treat time – the most valuable resource of speaker and listeners alike – with the respect it deserves, we need to fundamentally change our approach to presentations. With the right approach, time becomes a precious friend. We are less apt to horde it or waste it. We congregate with our listeners in the present moment and enjoy the experience of time well spent.


© 2021 by Scott Stiefvater,

(anti) Presentation Coach


Tel: 925-586-3517

San Francisco Bay Area


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