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June 9, 2010 / marden928

What can Machu Picchu teach you about presentations?

2 days ago, a really good friend of mine and I got back from an amazing  trip around Peru.  Did you know:  that Peru has not 1, but 2 canyons that are deeper than the Grand Canyon?  That in Lake Titicaca there are people who live on floating islands that they made out of plants?  That Indiana Jones is based on the guy that found the Machu Picchu ruins and had them all fixed up?  That Peru has some of the Amazon in it?  That there’s a 1600 year old pyramid in the middle of Lima?  Amazing, yes?

If you’re like me, though, you didn’t know all of that.  In fact, knowing all of that about Peru, it boggles the mind a bit that it’s still a fairly poor country.  It really should be THE DESTINATION and one that people trek around in for months (some do, though).  So, why doesn’t anyone talk about anything beyond Machu Picchu?  PR, dude!

Peru has been smart about its magical treasure, Machu Picchu.   The Peruvian government was more than happy for the Yale Professors to promote the academic discoveries in MP.  And also more than happy to build a weird little tourist town nearby (Aguas Calientes is not one of the magical wonders of Peru, you wonder a lot there, but not magically).  Alas, it seems there’s a private hotel really getting the serious bucks up there (there’s a $39 buffet lunch – seeing as most lunch in Peru costs about $5-7, it’s quite pricey).

So, what lessons can a presenter gain from MP?  Simple:  Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and you may get top billing.  And more importantly, try to get promoted by the right people.  In the case of MP, that’d be Yale University and the Machu Picchu sanctuary.

But, there’s more that Machu Picchu can teach you as a presenter.  A big part of the absolute magic that is MP is how well it’s planned.  There are different stones used for the more holy areas (easier to identify, like section headers in a presentation), the overall plan was laid out before it was finished  so it’s easy to see what the overall structure would be (like a good storyline!), and just overall awesome construction with heavy thought put towards the landscape (like excellent image selection).

And Machu Picchu just seems that much more magical and well planned out after going to messy, unplanned Aguas Calientes.  the lesson there:  If you can’t plan your presentation, make sure you’re not speaking before or after someone who plans theirs, you’ll seem extra messy!

I leave you with a picture of my friend and me in Machu Picchu – our 8th grade teacher will be proud!

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