No Napping LO13554 -Comments
Thu, 8 May 97 15:21:36 -0700

Replying to LO13531 --

Here, as usual, are some really great comments.




As one who coaches presenters as part of my vocation (at work and in
volunteer situations), you've hit some of the biggest points. Some
other issues have to do with voice (speed, clarity, modulation),
speech (appropriate vocabulary, attention to idiom, especially if you
are speaking to a diverse audience), pacing (varied somewhat is best
to emphasize key points, effective use of pauses/silence) and body
language (open body stance, maintaining effective space between
audience and self, varied movement), media variation, question
handling and appropriate handouts are also part of the package.

Note that "variation" is mentioned frequently. That's because as
human beings, we have the ability to pay attention for only so long,
we remember the "first" thing best and the "last" thing second best,
with everything in the middle as up for grabs. (Attention is created
with a change of stimulus in the environment and saturates over time
as the stimulus remains constant. That is why we are not totally
overwhelmed by our physical environment.) By creating appropriate
variation in our presentation, we create more opportunities for
"first" and "last" points. People who do these well are Paul Harvey
(conservative radio commentator) and Tom Peters. The best recipe for
wide-awake "sleep" is a "monotone" presentation, with no variants at
all (i.e. all fast or all slow or all loud or all soft or all
overheads or all flipchart or all ...). So long as the rhythm is
constant, your presentation will come across as a kind of chanting
that lulls the brain into inactivity, awaiting the next interrupt.

You are right-on about including a call to action at the close. This,
along with every word and illustration in your presentation, should
support the objective: As a result of this presentation, what will be
different? What do I want the audience to do or be able to

Final point: School yourself to consider your audience PARTICIPANTS
(not students or attendees). This will help you to keep the action
focus and help you to seek ways to have them participate. After all,
when someone participates, you are creating additional opportunities
for them to remember what happened and why they should care.

Now, what if everyone in HP applied some of this ideas to meetings?
Think about it! As a result of calling (participating in) this
meeting, what will be different? What action was accomplished? What
decision(s) made? How will everyone be able to participate? How will
my (work) life change as a result of participating?

--Terie Robinson, TMO Field Development

I've never liked to do presentations because they are not very interactive
and you've yet again reminded me to look at ways to engage the audience. I

like a workshop format where the audience actually has work to do ---- like

come up with their own list of issues, and then I can summarize from THEIR
experience as well as my own.

Alexia Martin


> P.S. What are you going to do differently as a result of this jotting?

Read it again. I'm teaching a course Monday so I'll *try* then to do lots
of these things. But Duw, it's hard to break bad habits!

Another useful tip I saw recently: Make slide titles like newspaper
headlines. So instead of 'Business Results' put 'Sales up, profit down!' or

instead of 'Signal values' put 'Make the system work *for* you'.


Dave Straker
HP UK Sales



Two points came to mind with this jotting:

A former manager of mine at another company always said that the point of
every presentation is to sell something -- an idea, a decision, an action,
a viewpoint, a question -- something. This corresponds well with the
notion that the presenter is trying to incite the audience to a specific
(or at least new) action or behavior.

I have been trying to sell the idea that meetings are a weak form of
interaction. We sit in a room, around or among barriers of some sort
(tables), and are usually "spoken to" by someone. Many of our meetings,
therefore, are not interactive enough and are certainly not collaborative
in nature. I have begun to think that the actual environment of the
meeting is important. I want "work sessions" to feel like just that -- not

meetings -- and we've started seeking out places to sit comfortably, have
lots of drawing and writing space available to everyone, walk around a lot,

and sit around tables a lot less.

As a result of your jotting, I plan to push these ideas more and look for
feedback to my presentations that the audience members are going to change
their behavior because of them.

Dave Clarke
W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc.

"P.S. What are you going to do differently as a result of this jotting?"

Well, Joe.....


I've been making presentations since about 1979. My first presentation was

read off 3x5" cards, to a group of about 15-20 technical peers. I still
remember the day. One of them asked me a question, challenging my point.
I explained to him that he was wrong, when, in fact, he wasn't. What a
wonderful day. [irony/sarcasm].

I also remember a day in about 1983. I'd just separated from my first wife

and was off in Colorado, taking a training class to prepare me to support
sales teams selling workstations, as well as those who sold the HP1000
computers that MY division marketed. The slides were all in
black-and-white, and most looked like thermofaxes of typed material. I had

more than a little trouble staying awake, as much as focused on the subject

at hand. After the class ended, the trainers asked for feedback. Not
feeling very confident at the time, I stuck my hand up anyway, and offered
the meek suggestion that some other fonts, maybe bigger letters, and maybe
some color could be added. The instructors gave me a five-minute lecture
on how they knew from studies that black-and-white slides had the highest
retention rate. So I did just what I should have done, under the
circumstances: I thanked them, went into the men's room, and cried for
about five minutes.

Today, still (though the crying is no longer an issue, and my new wife is
more than wonderful), what I call "slide-ology" is a lost art around me.

I take slide presentations given to me and correct spelling errors, enlarge
type-sizes so they can be read by someone further back than the second row,
and change the color schemes so that black-on-green and red-on-blue no
longer are the standard. I change block letters to bold and make sure
thatcontrasting colors go together for letters and their backgrounds.

I've critiqued other folks' slides, and in some cases, suggested that they
take really busy ones and split them into two or more slides that flow
together and build on each other (or act as backup material for the key,
first slide).

That's all mechanics.

About a year and a half ago, after having spent literally decades shoveling
"data" at the unlucky audiences, hoping it would turn into "information" or
motivation, I made a decision to attack the problem differently.

I do about 1-2 customer briefings a week, as we call 'em here in
Cupertino. I make sure that the person giving me the backgrounds of the
customers tells me some important things: are they friendly or hostile to
HP (or presenters in general)? "High-level or techy"? Neophytes or
old-timers to my division's products? And key: do they have a sense of
humor, or are they cold or wooden? I tailor my presentations,

I've made impassioned speeches which kept the passion when translated into
Japanese. I've kept my cool when three out of 15 guests fell asleep during
my pitch. [not kidding].

I've stopped worrying about the 1-5 ratings the customers are asked to
give, and spend much more energy reading the faces of the guests, trying
to see if they've gotten the points or are just being polite. My "grades"
haven't changed, but _I'm_ having lots more fun in presentations, now.

And some you win and some you lose. Some customers won't buy if you were
to give them the Midas Touch without the downside. I do my best, but when
the curtain comes down, I get off stage and go back to the next part of my
job (which may be another presentation.... I'll be doing two tomorrow.)

Four final notes: (sorry, should be three, right?)

Many years ago, one of my friends here once stopped his "pitch" in the
middle, noting the extremely closed posture of the customer. Arms folded,
scowling.... "Excuse me, but have I said something that upset you?", he
asked. "Oh, I'm mad, all right," the customer answered. "I just realized
that, from what you just told me, that I have to go back and completely
redo a lot of things at my company.... and redo them the way you

Presenters can learn a lot from the PowerSpeaking and Decker Communications
courses that HP buys for its employees. I think everyone who stands in
front of a customer should go through those classes first. Mandatory.
What's missing is a "Slide-ology" course. To eliminate the fine print and
the colors that bury the data, let alone the information.

[and this is my one soapbox issue for this note: use of Graphs]
Pie charts show splits between things. They should NEVER be used, one next
to another, to show a change from one year to another. The human brain
does not work that way. Change can be seen in line or bar charts, but
it'll take you a ton of time to figure out the meaning of changes between
two pie charts. If you think this isn't true, you're kidding yourself or
your audience.

while everyone seems to love the concave-upward swoopy-line curves that
show growth, there's just one thing wrong with them: you can't compare two
curved lines very well in your head, no matter how much you think you can,
and one way or the other, YOU CAN'T EXTRAPOLATE A CURVED LINE. Growth
should ONLY be plotted on semi-log scales: ratios up the side and years,
weeks, or whatever, across the bottom (ordinate and abscissa to those of
you who took your lessons in the 60s).... When you do that, three things
happen: 1) You can extrapolate the lines, because constant growth rate
shows up as a STRAIGHT LINE, 2) slopes of straight lines can be compared
more easily, and 3) you get to wean yourself off the swoopy-curved lines.

Thanks for listening!
Alan Falk
HP ESY Business Development, Cupertino


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