Feb 2, 2011

Retrospection after every Presentation


To become awesome at making presentations I strongly recommend: Retrospection after every Presentation.

Sit back, relax, rewind, think about the presentation you have just given. What did not go well? and how can you correct that next time. What went well which you can replicate next time. You need to do this within 24 hours of giving the presentation and write down your learning for future reference.

I delivered a presentation today to a group of 60 first year MBA students. I was representing my organisation and had gone to offer them a small market research project. The objective was to get students excited about the (glamour less) project. My aim was to enroll atleast 30 of them.

What went well?

The presentation was liked by the students. I am gauging from the response I received. 48 of them enrolled (48 out of 60). My objective was met and that was the most satisfying part. I was really worried that only 5 or 10 students will like the project. The project is too small and not so exciting for a student.

Another good thing was the short duration. The presentation hardly lasted for 20-25 minutes. You cannot interest young MBA students for any longer than that. Due to this, no one slept during the presentation. This was a conscious effort from my side. After making the first draft of the presentation, I cut not less than 15% of the slides just to keep things simple.

I did most of the talking and the slides hardly had any text. I did not want them to read because no one likes to read much during a presentation. The average amount of words on a slide was around 7. I kept talking while slides helped students to focus on the key points.

I tried my best to give a logical flow to the presentation. Things followed one after the other. Who am I? --> Why am I here? --> Why are we doing the project? --> What is in it for the students?

What could have been better?

[This is the part where we have to be tough on ourselves. We cannot rest on our laurels if we have to become awesome.]

I hardly had time to prepare. Is it not always the case? We get to know of a presentation one day before and try to put in a few extra hours at the last minute. Yesterday I slept at 1am and that was not at all comfortable.

I should have rehearsed more. My content was fine and the slides were very simple. Yesterday night I rehearsed 2 times. I rehearsed again once during the day. This was not enough. If we spend 2 hours preparing the content and 2 hours making the slides then we must spend 2 hours rehearsing the presentation. Rehearsal should be done exactly the way we will be presenting. Stand up, be loud and present to an empty room.

I made changes to the slides at the last minute. That was done to make the content better. This becomes a problem because we need to rehearse and go for every presentation. The rehearsal which I did before making the changes loses if effectiveness if changes are made to the slides. Many a times I had to look at the slides to figure out what was there on it :-)

Overall was I awesome?

Yes I was. My presentation met the objective, the students gave a warm response and the faculty wanted me to come regularly to conduct guest lectures. If our overall objective is met, small small issues don't really spoil the show.



Image: Evgeni Dinev