Two doctors are getting ready for a big presentation. One turns to the other and says, “I don’t feel like doing this. Would you mind presenting my slides for me?”
This sounds like the beginning of a corny joke. Maybe so. But the thing is, the joke is on the doctors.
This is a true story as recounted by one of their medical colleagues during a speech he delivered not long ago.
It seems these two experts had been collaborating for three decades, and knew each other’s work intimately. Each had, of course, one of those slide decks that are so ubiquitous (and, as is too typical in a medical or scientific setting, unreadable and boring). At the last minute, Doctor A had to beg off presenting at a conference, so he asked his close colleague Doctor B to present his slides in his stead.
Doctor B readily agreed. It would be no problem given their work together, so why not?
I’ll tell you why not. Doctor B smoothly delivered his talk with his own trusty, familiar slides. Then he tried to segue into Doctor A’s slides. A few moments into the proceedings, he had to back out due to his bumbling and stumbling. He just wasn’t familiar with the material as Doctor A had structured it. Not only did he shut down the slides, he left the stage.
What’s the fallout? First of all, Doctor B’s confidence and reputation was in tatters. Imagine the embarrassment. Second, he failed to realize that slides serve merely as support for one’s presentation; they are not the presentation itself. He was the show; the slides are simply there as back him up and to illustrate key points.
Finally, make sure any message you deliver and any stories you tell belong to you. As close as the two physicians may have been, they still held different experiences. Never try to walk in someone else’s shoes.