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Thread: Giving Presentations, Teaching, Etc.

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Giving Presentations, Teaching, Etc.

    I believe that many of you have positions where you have to stand in front of a group of people and give a presentation, teach or inform on a specific topic, and be available for question-and-answer sessions. This thread gives you the opportunity to tell us what you have to convey, how you plan, what tools do you use, how has been your response, and maybe even share those "oh so embarassing" moments.

    This Bear enjoys standing in front of a large crowd and going over something.....just as long as there as been time to prepare, even if only for a few minutes with scribbled notes in a pocket notebook. Had to do it today, in fact, before a group of over one hundred (100).

    FLIP-CHARTS
    Old School Bear: Flip-charts, numbered, with cribs notes in light pencil, written on the charts in font-size so small even folks in the front row can't read them. This method keeps me on task and usually on time.

    POWERPOINT
    New School Bear: Great tool, especially for the majority of groups that I talk to.....employees who don't give a crap (not all). Need to mix a bit of humor-type slides in a Powerpoint prez.....to keep their attention. I try to never go past twenty (20) slides.

    VIDEOS
    I use some "canned" videos in some specific training.....very generic vids so I usually stop them at certain pre-planned points and reference how what they are seeing on the video affects them at our workplace. I find that videos longer than ten (10) minutes will start to lose the ole' attention span.

    AGENDAS / TIMEKEEPER
    Many times I will develop a specific agenda and make sure that everybody attending sees the topic points and the target time period. This greatly helps move things along. Sometimes I will ask somebody to help out by being the offfical timekeeper, in case this ole' Bear gets a'ramblin'.....

    QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
    This can be touchy, especially in a big group. If you don't really want to weigh down a large group with questions that may not affect everybody in attendance, begin the meeting by saying there will be a chance for anybody to ask questions, personally, after the session (or presentation).

    I have also chaired presentations where I opened with, "The following items are not open for discussion. This is merely a communication of some news."

    WHAT TO LISTEN OR WATCH FOR
    At the meeting I held today I was able (by listening as I talked) to hear "off-the-cuff" comments somebody uttered, probably as a "joke" to impress whoever they were standing by. This tidbit gives me a feel for how some people feel about certain issues......in today's case it was "mandatory overtime".....and develop appropriate and FAIR responses.

    BEAR IS NOT RODNEY DANGERFIELD
    I have used some fun lines in presentations or in teaching. Many have worked and some have "bombed". Be careful, know your audience, know the rules.

    HR Director Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Back in college it was all slides and overhead projections. Now it is PowerPoint with the random large map or flip-charts for writing. I am regularly giving presentations for anywhere from a dozen to 500 people. I guess it averages every other week. When I first started I tended to get nervous, but now it doesn't bother me a bit. In fact, if I know I have a good presentation, I really enjoy it.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    ...if I know I have a good presentation, I really enjoy it.
    Absolutely! The session Prudence and I did with 2 others at Indy in October was a ball, because we knew our stuff and had ZERO prep time required. Rip and read is a staple of network news that we can all learn from -- and should.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    Absolutely! The session Prudence and I did with 2 others at Indy in October was a ball, because we knew our stuff and had ZERO prep time required. Rip and read is a staple of network news that we can all learn from -- and should.
    Yeah, I get tons of personal satisfaction in knowing that I have an vast depth of knowledge in certain things and can effectively educate others. I love Q&A because it demonstrates the relevance of the topic to the needs of the audience. There is nothing worst than an audience without questions. You get an abrupt and fruitless finish to the presentation. Fortunately this hasn't happened to me, but I've witnessed it happen to others.

    Obviously, I use Powerpoint and lots of humor. When I got out of school, I would have pre-presentation jitters. Now I look forward to it. It's fun for me know, because there is a little thespian/comedian in my blood.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    I've always been a big supporter of Toastmasters International as a way to get reluctant/awful speakers to get up and do their thing without collapsing. It's painful to watch bad speakers.

    My presentations for work have all been very generic: public hearings for zoning changes or deed restrictions. Each Planning Commission has their own way of wanting the info, and it doesn't leave a lot of room for variety. I used to use Powerpoint to show pics of adjacent property, but that was 2 cities ago.

    I believe that a firm grasp of knowledge/conditions, a clear voice and a willingness to admit that you need to look something up in the code (which, of course, you have handy right next to you) will get you far in Planning Commission presentations.

    They few community presentations I've given (for school) are different. I used Powerpoint in all, with other visual aids (large thoroughfare map in one, zoning map in another, you get the idea). I don't stand behind a podium, and I require action from my audience. Sometimes it's simple Q&A, other ties it's the put-the-dot-on-your-location, other times it's small group brainstorming, depends on the topic and size of audience. These presentations are a lot more fun, because they require some thought and prep before hand.

    Overall, I prefer the non-standard community presentations over PC presentations. But for right now, my job only requires PC talks. Maybe, whenever the next job comes about, I'll be able to give some community presentations.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Make certain that your clothes are properly buttoned and zipped. It only happened to me once. It was not a work presentation, however--it was leading a chruch prayer.

  7. #7
    maudit anglais
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    I went to an awesome one-day course recently where they video tape you doing a presentation and then critique you. I did pretty good - just need to speak a little louder and stop fiddling with my wedding band when I'm speaking.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Budgie - I have to agree with you, the Q & A is where it really gets interesting.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner
    I went to an awesome one-day course recently where they video tape you doing a presentation and then critique you. I did pretty good - just need to speak a little louder and stop fiddling with my wedding band when I'm speaking.
    A few years ago I attended a similar session that included the video-taping of my final presentation. The trainer went over everybody's presentation and his critique of mine concluded that I was "very comfortable" and "drew the listeners in".

    The topic, that he assigned at the last minute, was "my family". Easy for this Bear to comfortably ramble on about my son, his wife, the two (2) beautiful granddaughters, the dogs and cats, what mom and dad did before they passed away, etc.

    I proudly took the tape home, popped it in the VCR, and shared it.....with a big fat smile on my face.....with my wife, Katie.

    She correctly pointed-out that I never mentioned her. Oops.

    Slow Speed Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie
    There is nothing worst than an audience without questions. You get an abrupt and fruitless finish to the presentation..
    I usually hate being asked for questions...

    Usually i'm in full reciever mode trying to soak up all the data flying at me without actually thinking about it yet (thinking=I missed a couple slides completely, may as well have walked out of the room) and suddenly, no warning, "Any questions?" and suddenly I have to shift gears, mentally review the whole presentation in my head and relate it to several different potential scenarios, then formulate a coherent and intelligent question based on the whole process and all within 10 seconds before they close up and wander off thinking i'm an uncaring and unquestioning dolt.

  11. #11
    The only training for this was in high school, FFA parlimentary procedure team. Yet this has stayed with me for more years than I care to admit to. I usually got put in the chair position and had to handle whatever the judges threw at us. We made it to the state level several times. Now my speaking is limited to P&Z meetings, where nobody understands Robert's Rules of Order. I still get a little self conscious while trying to sell an idea but with the support of our town council and our planning staff I have decided to just go with what I think and then argue/discuss it out. If not for that training in high school I would be lost.

  12. #12
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Early in my career, I was nervous at my first few public hearings. But that wore off. My sense is, if you know your stuff and you speak confidently (not that I'm a great speaker by any stretch), you do fine. At the last three public hearings the rooms have been packed as the decision makers have considered zone change applications (it was packed Thursday and will be packed again next Tuesday). I enjoyed each of them and have for years now. (The ex used to say it was due to my ego, but WTF does she know.)

  13. #13
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    I use PowerPoint. I enjoy presenting in front of folks. Probably becuase I am a 'ham' at heart and like the attention .

    This summer I had to present in front of an angry mob who thought I was there to raise their taxes (?). They were an older crowd mostly from "up-north". I was introduced as being from Mississippi (I am not), and this scored no points with them. The crowd was so big I had to wear one of those "Jerry McGuire" microphones. I was nervious, but it turned out fine once they realized I was not going to raise their taxes.

    I also gave a presentation to a packed auditorium at a major university in Peru. The presentation was about "What is 'Planning'". I made a PowerPoint in Spanish and gave the presentation in Spanish. It went well... but the Q & A was really hard for me becuase the folks would ask a 10 minute question in rapid speak Spanish and I would not know the 'question' by the time they finished. Luckily I had a little help from someone with me and this turned out well (I think).

    After those and some other stories my 'everyday normal' presentations (classroom or commission) are a breeze and I do get nervious... rather look forward to them, sorta like a game to see how well I will do, always trying to make the next presentation better than the last.

  14. #14
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    I love the rush of a packed hearing as well. I really miss that part of my old job. This place it's like; "You mean I have to XYZ?" Yes sir, that's what the ordinance says.. "Oh, okay"
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  15. #15

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    In my past life in the public sector, I didn't much like public hearings. Usually way too dry, and they lasted forever. I did like community meetings, where I got a chance to speak to community residents and encourage their input.

    I like the give and take when answering questions better than giving the presentation itself, because I always wonder if I missed something, or didn't hit a point just right.

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