Brought to you by Ellen Dowling, PhD ("The Standup Trainer") and the fine folks of Dowling & Associates, Inc.
This newsletter is guaranteed certifiably useful as well as amusing. (If you are not completely satisfied, there are unsubscribe instructions at the end. But we're betting you'll change your mind by the time you get there.)
Welcome to all new and continuing subscribers!
In this issue:
1. Presentation Horror Story of the Month
[Editor's Note: Have you a good story to tell about the time SOMETHING WENT WRONG at a presentation you were giving (or attending)? We are soliciting submissions for this segment of our newsletter. If your story is chosen, you will receive a FREE copy of either of Ellen's two books, The Standup Trainer or Presenting with Style (your choice). Simply send your story (just a couple of paragraphs will be fine) to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
The winner of this month's contest is Bill Richardson, Head Instructor for Kaplan Schools, for whom he teaches home inspection classes.
A colleague and I teach for a national training company. All of our materials are shipped from headquarters. (HQ also enrolls the students.)
My colleague had a Saturday class on a subject called "Fast Track." There were nine paying students (at $1,400.00 each).
The students' handouts and instructors' PowerPoint arrived on Friday, but there were only four handouts, so my colleague made additional copies. He did not have time to review both the PPt and the handouts, so he just looked at the handouts.
On Saturday as he started the presentation he found out that the PPt slides did not match the ones on the handouts. There were so many discrepancies that the students could not use their materials. He called me and I told him to give the students some related books (that we normally charge extra for) to make it up to them. Nevertheless, HQ had to refund the fee to three students who complained.
Lesson learned: ALWAYS check your materials before you start and make sure you get the materials way ahead of time.
2. Presentation Hall of Shame
Often presentation skills trainers are asked to teach too many people in too little time, just to save a few bucks. For example, here's a story from Sherron Bienvenu, author of The Presentation Skills Workshop (reviewed below).
A client once asked Sherron, "Can you train forty-eight people in two days?" Now, we all know what Sherron's answer should have been: "Of course not. No one would benefit from this training." Ah, well, yes, but how many of us have been sorely tempted to just take the money and run with the program, no matter how unreasonable the time constraints.
Sherron says, "I managed to convince them to stretch their commitment to two-and-a-half days. However, since my original proposal had included two presentations by each participant, I organized the five half-day seminar so that all forty-eight people spoke twice, twenty-four at a time in half-day workshops.
Six per hour sounds reasonable, but with late starts, setup, evaluation, questions, breaks, technical difficulties, and a much lower level of proficiency than the client had promised, it was a horrible experience. Everyone felt rushed, and no one was satisfied with the training."
So here's a question for you readers: How many people do you think is the optimal number for a presentation skills class? (I'll report the answers in next month's newsletter.)
3. Presentation Skills Book Review
You've already met the author of this month's book, Sherron Bienvenu, above. If you are getting ready to teach your own presentation skills class, then you should invest in Sherron's book, The Presentation Skills Workshop (NY: American Management Association, 2000).
This book contains everything you need to plan, conduct, and evaluate a successful presentation skills program, from designing the length of the training, to producing course materials, to teaching the course content, to collecting feedback after the class. It also includes a section on "Male-Female Communication Issues," which is Sherron's special area of research. (I wasn't convinced that the differences in the ways men and women communicate affect a presentation all that importantly, and she doesn't really address what to do with a "mixed" audience, but it is an interesting read.)
What I found most useful in this book is her section on "Reporting Results to Managers and Decision Makers." We all know the difficulties of persuading upper management that the training "worked" and should be thus be repeated. Sherron suggests sending a report to the decision maker, which begins thusly: "Thank you for the opportunity to deliver the Winning Presentations seminar to 24 members of our management group. All of the designated participants attended. I'd like to share some feedback and recommendations."
Sherron then summarizes the responses from the participants to specific questions on the evaluation form, and ends her report like this: "Based on this feedback, I suggest that we discuss offering this seminar to other management-level employees. I also recommend that we respond to the request for more time and feedback on individual presentations, either by 1) reducing the group size and extending the workshop to a full day, or 2) offering executive coaching on an as-requested basis. We could pilot an executive coach program with these 24 participants to measure response and results.
I'll call for an appointment to discuss these issues, and I look forward to our next training programs. Thanks again."
Don't just leave them wanting more . . . make sure you ask for more!
4. Useful Online Resource of the Month
Guy Kawasaki has come up with a very useful "rule" for effective PowerPoint presentations, which he calls "the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint": "A PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points." That's a very good rule to remember, but I would also add this: "A 20-minute PowerPoint presentation should have no more than ten slides, and half of those slides should be pictures, not words."
To read more about Guy's rule, go here: http://www.presentationhelper.co.uk/10-20-30-rule-powerpoint.htm
That's it for this month! If you enjoyed this newsletter please do pass it on to your friends. (Or send them to www.standuptrainer.com to get their own subscription. Why should YOU have to do everything for them?)
If you have a suggestion for something we could do to make this newsletter even MORE useful as well as amusing, please contact us:
Dowling & Associates, Inc.