Mad Libs are for Kids Not for Presentations

Growing up I loved playing Mad Libs with my mom.

Now if you don’t remember Mad Libs, it was a story that you created by filling in the blanks with different parts of speech.

My mom would ask me for a noun, a pronoun, an adjective, a part of the body. And then when she filled in all of the blanks, she would read me the story. It was hysterical. The things that we would come up with; stories that made no sense and were so fantastic that no one would ever believe them. We spent hours laughing at these Mad Libs.

Unfortunately, nowadays in business and presentation I’m seeing Mad Libs in a whole different way. People are “mad libbing” their presentations and their business.

There are so many formulas and templates that are out there sold by these huge marketing and sales gurus.

The current epidemic that I’m seeing all the time is this one. The three massive mistakes – (insert for your specific audience) – makes that leaves them feeling – (horrible thing number one,) (horrible thing number two) and of course (horrible thing number three).

Out of curiosity I Googled “three massive mistakes” and came up with 44 million results.

Here’s a delectable sample:

  • “Three massive mistakes couponers make..”
  • “Three massive mistakes even smart fund raisers make…”
  • “Three massive mistakes all marketing specialists make..”
  • “Three massive mistakes that smart women make that keep them tired and stuck and in a funk.”

I give that last one points for rhyming, that was pretty cool.

But you see what I mean. It’s a mad lib. There’s nothing original. They’re following a formula and hoping that it is going to bring them massive success.

Now here is the problem with “mad libbing” your presentation – since there are 44 million results on Google, that means that your audience probably knows what you’re up to. (Let’s not mention that your presentation will not stand out in the massive mistakes crowd).

When I see a three massive mistakes presentation I know that it is canned. That it has not been adapted to suit the audience or to suit my needs and what I bring into a presentation as an audience member.

Kick “Massive Mistakes” to the Presentation Curb

No more massive mistakes in a presentation title ever (don’t make me go all Joan Crawford a la Mommy Dearest on you).

I’m sick of feeling bad about the mistakes that I may or may not be making. And I know that this is to invoke fear and that is supposed to be a trigger to get us in through the door because “God forbid, I’m making these mistakes.”

But I don’t want to feel the shame. Scratch that NO ONE wants to feel shame.

I believe business and presentation should make your audience feel good. No more massive mistakes. Be original in your title. Heck, be positive in your title.

Make the Audience the Star of Your Presentation

It’s perfectly fine to use the same material in a presentation, but it is not okay to just give the same presentation over and over again.

You must adapt it to your audience because smart professional women is a pretty big group. And the organization that they’re in might make them really different from other smart professional women.

Think strategically about how you can adapt your presentation to the audience that you’re giving it to.

Become an Expert in Presentations

And finally, it is time to start learning the art of presentations.

If you know the rules of public speaking, it becomes so much easier to craft presentations that resonate.

It also becomes a lot easier when you have that framework to break those rules; to take the rulebook, set it on fire and do something different. Because now you are the expert in how to present. And you are the expert in your audience in what they need from you.

Get creative!

It’s time to stop playing Mad Libs with your business and with your presentations. Be original. Your business will thrive and your audience will thank you for spending the time and caring enough to craft a message that helps them and creates value.

As Pablo Picasso said “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

Create art with your presentations.