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Presentation Awareness

Earlier this week I was invited to sit in on a lunch and learn presentation that was given by a friend of a friend. The lunch and learn has certainly become a popular and effective way of introducing a business idea, promoting and marketing a company, or simply giving a group of people in the community something of value to make their business better…if it’s done correctly.

Unfortunately, this presentation died before it started (By the way, I speak from experience. I’ve been the pilot of more than one presentation that crashed and burned so I know what I’m talking about).

The meeting was advertised to begin at 12:00 and end at 1:00. It didn’t. Many of the attendees are coming from their corporate jobs so time is crucial. The presenter was sitting at a table speaking one on one with what appeared to be one of his friends and the presentation started just after 12:15. The presenter was a very friendly and funny person, but like me was like a kitten with a shiny object being waved in front of him. The presenter was just simply not aware of what was happening outside of him (i.e. everyone looking at their watches and squirming in their chairs). Way too much time was spent trying to be entertaining and the message just didn’t resonate.493765546_b1dec4b19a

At nearly ten minutes after one o’clock, the presentation ended. The presenter asked for questions (none were asked), and thanked everyone for coming. Once the audience finally received their lunch bills, they hurried out the door and back to work. I'm guessing it was not a very profitable afternoon.

So with that, I present a few (of many) obvious ways to make a lunch and learn more effective;

  • Be prepared Having fun and bringing your personality into your presentation can be very effective. But even great improvisation has structure. There is a reason people like Drew McLellan and Adam Carroll make it look so easy.
  • Respect people's time Start on time and end on time. Know your audience. In this case, many people were coming from their corporate jobs where lunch hours are actually one hour. If people are stressed about getting back to work on time you've lost them even if they are still in the room.
  • Give something of value Again, time is precious. Funny and entertaining is icing on the cake. If your audience doesn't leave with something that can make their job or life better, you've wasted your time and theirs.
  • Keep it simple Here is a slide from Garr Reynolds at Presentation Zen on keeping it simple. Think about it.

Have you sat through an awesome presentation lately? What made it great?

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Comments

Thank you for mentioning Garr in your post. I work for Peachpit Press and thought you and your readers might be interested in knowing that he just released his first online streaming video, Presentation Zen: The Video, where he expands on the ideas presented in his book and blog. The DVD is now available for purchase as well. More info can be found here:

http://su.pr/6N0VlM

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