imagesLast week, I wrote about the necessity of a post-presentation debrief, which elicited the following comment, “I agree that deconstructing my presentations has made me a much better speaker.”   Interesting. That is a statement that is both true and yet not accurate as it relates to my debrief post. I would now like to justify (I mean “leverage”) my TV research time to illustrate the difference between debriefing and deconstructing and when presenters must do each.

GIRLS I have watched Lena Dunham’s GIRLS faithfully. In fact, this is the second time I will post about the show. I find GIRLS searing, courageous, embarrassing, funny, insightful and cringe-worthy. At the end of each episode, I practically rub my hands in glee anticipating the ‘behind the scenes’ deconstruction that Lena Dunham shares with her TV viewers. She talks us through her world of writing, directing, creating and shares her take on each character in that week’s episode. Dunham is delightedly matter-of-fact about the characters’ failings and heroic denials. We also hear about an actor’s hilarious improvisation, the videographer’s cool “pan” shot, about what delighted her and what motivated the “name” and content of that week’s episode.

That is deconstruction. Dunham uncovers meaning, exposes assumptions and takes apart the episode to enrich and illuminate the viewer’s experience. As a deconstructionist, she answers the why and the how of the players and action on and off that stage. It is fascinating.

Public speakers absolutely take apart the structure of their presentation in the development and creative stage. Typically when I arrive at a client’s door, s/he will have already done a good deal of outlining, organizing, and designing a deck. Together we ensure that the structure of the presentation is tight, the logic holds and the meaning we uncover for their goals for themselves and their audience is built into their sentences, their images, and even in the quiet pauses of their delivery.

Deconstruction happens before you deliver. Debriefing is a tool and technique to obtain information and feedback for the purpose of continual improvement. Debriefing should occur after each and every presentation. Thank you, dear reader, for responding to my post and giving me the opportunity to continue the conversation. Thoughts?


Boston Friends: The artist Jennifer Liston Munson did an excellent job during her gallery talk for her exhibit, Cuba Provides.  She spoke directly and honestly about her process for creating the painted photographs and why she made the choices she did. Her deconstruction added so much depth and appreciation of her excellent work and what Cuba means to so many of us. Check it out.