To present first or last... that is a very good question.

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

I was at a networking meeting recently that brought ideas and investors together when an important topic was raised, as well as a point of view. 

The Founder and CEO of a successful startup was presenting to the crowd, offering business perspectives and advice regarding making your idea a reality. There is no doubt he has a long runway for success, and his advice and perspectives were "spot on" until the inevitable happened; you know... you are listening to a presentation and something is said that you disagree with.

As the CEO's was providing some insights, he offered the important advice of ensuring you are the first on the list of presenters, and whatever you do, make sure you are not the "last". Being an instinctive contrarian, I actually think being the last one to present is of great benefit... and so the rub began.

His reasons for presenting first were all very sound:

  • You get your thoughts out first and set the tone.
  • The audience is all fresh, eager and ready to listen.
  • By the end of a long day of presentations, everyone is thinking of little more than just "getting out of there".

A few days after that meeting, I was at an informal retreat and posed this question to a number of experienced business professions who echoed what the CEO said and why. I didn't agree with them either.

I should be clear that I don't disagree with their reasoning, but more with the thinking that being last is a disadvantage. Here is why I see being last as an advantage.

  • Even though I am standing between the audience and the bar, I am the "last face they will see".
  • Since I know the audience will be tired, influenced by others and have already formed opinions; I will have to deliver a presentation that is so much better than what anyone else has done - Knowing I am already at a disadvantage will challenge me to simply do so much better, be more creative, and figure out how to overcome all the challenges the had CEO mentioned.

There is also one other reason - Sometimes you will have no other choice than be the last to present, so you may as well learn how to get really good at it. 

As that 'ol saying goes, "If you are able to do it in the bad times, just imagine how easy it will be in the good times."