There’s an old saying when shooting a film or television series: “We’ll fix it in post.” It means that if an actor muffs a line or a plane flies overhead, you can repair those problems in post-production. Last week, we referenced a photo workshop we took in Telluride, Colorado. We learned that with digital photography, editing programs now allow you to manipulate a photo in terms of contrast, color, lighting and so on. It struck us how similar this process is to finalizing a verbal presentation.
In reality, once a talk is prepped, most speakers rehearse their piece as is until they present it. But it’s rare to see a photography exhibition whose images have not been edited, because subtle adjustments greatly affect the final product. For example, photos can go from color to black & white, which lets the viewer’s imagination fill in the story. Cropping an image can drastically move the focus and direct the eye to another part of the frame. And pale skies can be colored robin’s egg blue to cheat what the actual sky looked like. But too much manipulation or color saturation can also mask the true nature of the image.
For speakers, consider these post-production tools. Is there a theme suggested by your opening that you weave throughout? An apt metaphor to illuminate a concept? A transition line that links your talking points? Can you lighten a section with humor or deepen it with emotion? Will it improve your piece to shorten one section, while lengthening another? Consider your presentation a living, breathing form that you can always improve. These tools will not only engage your audience, but keep you from getting bored or sounding over-rehearsed. The secret is to stay open to fixing it in post.