Term #27: Old School

Old School: [ohld skool] a presentation that is noticeably decades old, either because of the incorporation of timeless material or because the presenter is staunchly opposed to progress.

Solomon said, with some measure of despondency, that there is nothing new under the sun. While presenters are inclined to agree with the wisest man that ever lived—at least theoretically—most will concede that there are always new ways of saying those same things under the sun. We imagine that, with the use of an iPad, Solomon might have been slightly less wise, certainly less wealthy (by at least $500), but even more popular. Granted, inclusion in the Bible boosts your readership, but imagine what @KingSolomon could have done with Twitter! His media platform would have been second to none in all of Israel.

iPad haters and other sticks-in-the-mud take a more literal view of Solomon’s texts, asserting that there is nothing new under the sun, including the ways in which we say old things. Thus, if you are a regular attendee at presentations, seminars, and other formally structured meetings, you will inevitably run into the guy illustrating his points with the psedocomical exploits of that oval-shaped clip art figure, an Azure template, and perhaps even the wipe feature. His unspoken assertion is that humanity made great innovations for countless generations—right up to the first year or two following the introduction of Microsoft PowerPoint 1.0—and then ceased to produce anything of further value. Like the Amish, he does not disdain innovation, but rather opposes innovation beyond a certain point. Like the Amish, people attend his presentations not for their content, but because they are relics of another time.

Old School, then, is a frame of mind. Given content, a PC, and PowerPoint, anyone can put together a dated presentation. To be truly Old School, one must also retain the fervor of a bygone era. In other words, they must have the same enthusiasm for their outmoded presentation style that today’s generation reserves for anything Steve Jobs pulls out of his hat.

The Takeaway: Presenting isn’t a religion; it’s a job. Do it well. An updated presentation style keeps your content—that which actually should be timeless—accessible to new generations. The longer you hang on to old presentations and old methods, the more you allow your influence to slip into oblivion.

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