Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Presenting Ideas, Concepts and Messages

Last week, I spent a couple of days on a training course entitled High Impact Communications Skills presented by The Talking Trade

Besides being interesting in it's own right, and very good at highlighting the things that I, and my colleagues, get wrong about presentations, there was a lot to be learnt from this course.

Early in the course, attendees (only eight of us, the most that fits this format) were asked to present something that we had worked on before. As is usual, we all used PowerPoint slides to get across many of the concepts, and made many common errors that we should all be aware of (i.e. reading from the slides, fidgeting, not facing the audience, poor tempo/tone/diction). No surprise there, then.

Our efforts were all reviewed, with constructive criticism from team members as well as the presenters. Then the course progressed with many other topics relating to getting the message across in any form of presentation or performance.

The second day, we were all asked to do a further short presentation, but this time on a topic about which we had strong feelings. This presentation was also reviewed (and both were filmed for personal review afterwards). It was clear to see how different we presented when passion was involved - albeit I at least felt I was not thinking clearly about presentation skills at the time.

One of the [many] things to take away from this course is the thought about how infrequently we, as professionals, tend to strip out the passion from our presentations. I don't know about you, but this is my career and I do feel very strongly about my subject matter. So why don't I show that to customers or potential clients?

I've now set myself a challenge to do a future presentation that includes elements of what I was taught by the Talking Trade, but also to make a conscious effort to let people know how I feel and what pride I have in doing a good job.

To that end, also plan to write an emotive tale about a personal interest on my other blog site (http://rutthenut.blogspot.com/) whichi I expect will show some of my passion. Then I aim to write a different tale or story that should highlight my beliefs in quality software processes and delivery, on this blog site. No promises as to when I do those write-ups, but hopefully they will be (a) interesting to read in their own right, as blog columns, and (b) illuminating to see if I can manage to show passion for I.T. - after all, this isn't the most popular topic down the pub, is it?


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