Saturday, February 26, 2011

Talking Tempo! at FRR

I used help from my audience to illustrate how changing the way we work can improve productivity while simultaneously reducing risk. Photo by Susanne Dahl.
I held a Tempo! talk again. This time at Framgångsrika Relationer, FRR, a business network.

This was (supposed to be) a short presentation so I focused on a single key topic: organizational design. You'd think that is a pretty dry topic, but it isn't. When you dive into why our companies are designed the way they are, it turns out that there is quite a bit of adventure involved: train crashes, dogfights between fighter pilots...

Judging from the mail I get following these presentations, people like it. Everyone has their own experience of organizational inertia. It is a relief to get to know what causes it, that it is possible to get rid of much of it, and be happier in the process.

Speaking of happiness: After each presentation, I get queries about where to buy Tempo! the book. Each time that happens, I know I have succeeded in sparking or fanning the flame of curiosity a bit. That's happiness!

Mingling with people from the audience is great fun. Also great feedback, so you can make the presentation even better the next time. Photo by Susanne Dahl.
Seth Godin came up with two really good criteria for business books that stand out. The same criteria hold for presentations:
  1. Does this change the way I think? Will it make me act differently tomorrow?
  2. Do I desperately want to share this?
Systems thinking, and I use the term very broadly here, is about a different way of thinking. The point of using systems thinking is that it enables us to do things we could not otherwise do. We can, for example, use systems thinking to save the world, create organizations that are both robust and delightful to work in, or make books and presentations that induce laughter, spark thinking and impel action.

I do believe we systems thinkers ought to do a lot more of those. Because we can!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Talking Tempo! at the University of Gothenburg School of Business, Economics, and Law Alumni Network

We had lunch before the presentation. It was a great opportunity to speak with some of the alumni members.
I've been talking Tempo! again. This time at thUniversity of Gothenburg School of Business, Economics, and Law Alumni Network. It was great fun. The alumni network meets up two to four times a month at the university. They have lunch, and follow up with a guest presenter.

Feeding the audience before a presentation is an excellent idea. As an added bonus, the presenter gets fed too, something I was in a position to appreciate very much.

Bo Ribbenholt
Presentations like these are often arranged through networks. A friend of mine, Joakim Olinder, whom I met through BNI, also knows Bo Ribbenholt of the alumni network. Joakim knew I look for opportunities to present, and he heard me talk about Tempo! at BNI World Trade Center in January. He contacted Bo and Bo contacted me.

I won't spill the beans about the content of the presentation. If you read Swedish, you can check out the CHV blog. Bo is writing an article about it. (I'll update the link to point directly to the article when it is published.)

I will write a bit about my approach to making presentations though:

I mentioned in an earlier post that I customize my presentations to suit my audience. I knew the audience this time would consist of experienced professionals with a strong background in economy. The presentation would be about 30 minutes.

My previous Tempo! presentation was at an Agical geek night, for a group of software developers with a strong interest in Agile software development. That presentation was more than two hours long.

Cutting a two hour presentation to 30 minutes while switching focus from software development to economy, while keeping it coherent and fun for the audience, is difficult. So I didn't.

Instead, I rebuilt the presentation from the ground up. I went back to the planning stage, and worked in FreeMind, my favorite mindmapping program. This allowed me to figure out what would be most interesting to my audience, and focus on that. I used my old presentations for source material, added some new stuff, and built the presentation slide by slide.

This approach made it a lot easier to design an entertaining presentation. It allowed me to tie in to some events that recently made the news here in Sweden, and it made it a lot easier to stick to the 30 minute time limit. I designed the presentation to be slightly more than 20 minutes. That way, I get a bit of margin, and ensure there is time enough for questions.

The most important part of a presentation: the audience. 
The most important part of a presentation is the audience. A presenter is there for the audience, not the other way around.

People want to hear you because they want to learn something new and because they want to be entertained. (Scott Berkun has a more complete list in Confessions of a Public Speaker. If you are interested in presenting, I recommend you read it.)

They want you to succeed in teaching and entertaining them, so you usually have the audience on your side from the beginning. What you need to do, is to take the best care of them you can. If you sincerely do your best, and let your passion show, you are off to a great start.