Reflecting on how to prepare for workshops

Now that I’ve shifted to wearing my consulting hat, I’ll be giving more presentations and facilitating more workshop sessions on Web 2.0, collaboration, Generation Y, and other topics. I have a couple of sessions to prepare and deliver over the next two weeks. I thought I’d take some time to “sharpen the saw” by planning how I can do this more effectively.

I need to organize frequently-needed concepts. For example, I often talk about multi-generational workplaces. Organizing key messages, case studies, and other material will make it easy for me to see at a glance which points are relevant to an intended audience and customize the presentation accordingly. A mindmap or outline is one way to do that.

I need to scan what’s going on. Most of the discussions and case studies for my areas of interest appear on blogs. Investing time in expanding my reading and organizing my notes will pay off later, when I can refer back to stories and examples I’ve seen. I can also analyze previous presentations and discussions to look for talking points and results.

I would like to organize my presentations more effectively. I often find interesting charts or explanations in other people’s slides, and I sometimes reuse my slides as well. I would like a visual way to organize those slides so that I can easily include them in presentations Microsoft Sharepoint allows Powerpoint 2007 users to organize individual slides in a slide library, but I don’t have access to that, and I may move to a Linux/Mac setup soon. One thing I can do is to build a master deck of slides (possibly broken down by topic), keeping track of the provenance of borrowed slides in the speaker’s notes.

The ideal scenario would be: The team tells me about an upcoming workshop. I retrieve my notes about that industry, and I do a search for new information about the company. I select some basic talking points with screenshots and case studies that they might be interested in. I put together a brief presentation designed to be a conversation-starter. I deliver this presentation, and we brainstorm scenarios or ideas. I document the results and my notes afterwards.

Okay. Bringing it back to my two upcoming workshops… For the first workshop, my role is to help the client learn more about Generation Y. We have some material around this already thanks to our work with other clients, and there are some thoughts out there as well. For the second workshop, my role is to help the client learn more about incorporating Web 2.0 features (community, rich user interfaces, etc.) into a website. They’re also somewhat interested in Generation Y.

For each workshop, I need to:

  • perform an industry scan to find examples from their industry and related industries
  • review past presentations to see if there are case studies, statistics, or talking points I can reuse
  • review past discussions to find ideas
  • brainstorm
  • organize the presentation
  • prepare the presentation

This will be fun!

  • http://coevolving.com David Ing

    In terms of content, you should probably make life a little bit easier on yourself. You know a lot, and most people will still be trying to catch up to you where you were last month (or last year).

    In process-based consulting, your job should be to bring clients along with their own understanding of trends in business and technology. Of course, there is some time spent on keeping current, but consultants are famous for being one page ahead of their clients. If you get too far ahead, it only produces a bigger gap between you and your client, introducing stress where it might not have otherwise been.

    Thus, an industry scan before each workshop is probably excessive. Of course, if you’re new to an industry, it’s helpful. On the second gig in an industry, not much additional knowledge is added, just updating.