October 14, 2009

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Weekly review: Week ending October 11, 2009

Better late than never!

From last week’s plans:

  • Create the facilitator guide. Postponed due to higher priorities, like working on the Idea Labs system.
  • Attend improv and sewing classes. Improv: get the hang of assumptions. Sewing: Make zippered pouch. Improv is so hard! Fun, but hard. Still working on developing strong characters and just getting out there.
  • Watch an improv show. Missed Monday’s show, and there were no shows on Tuesday.
  • Celebrate a nice, quiet Thanksgiving weekend with W-

I also:

  • Started planning a women’s leadership session about remote presentations
  • Picked up a whole bunch of books
  • Sewed a small stuff sack

Next week (this, really), I plan to:

  • Finish the template invitation for the upcoming idea labs
  • Get the Idea Labs system to a usable state
  • Develop a small collection of strong ‘stock’ characters for improv, if that helps
  • Start on my wool skirt
  • Prepare the garden for winter
  • Send the “Remote Presentations That Rock” presentation to the IBM Technical Leadership Exchange organizers
  • Keep on biking instead of letting the cold scare me


7 Tips for Remote Presentations That Rock

Remote Presentations That Rock: given at the virtual IBM Technical Leadership Exchange conference in November 2009 and the IBM Take Two women’s leadership sessions. Please feel free to learn from this and share this with others!

UPDATE: Added 14-minute standalone video.

(I just discovered I could draw more than just stick figures! Yay!)

Virtual presentations are tough.

We’re not going to talk about basic presentation skills: how to organize your thoughts, how to deliver your presentation, how to support your message with the right charts or images. There are a number of books and IBM courses on effective presentations, and I’ll link to them on the webpage for this talk. Today, we’re going to talk specifically about giving presentations online.

Why is this important? It starts with the reason why you give a presentation–any presentation. No matter what kind of presentation you’re giving, your goal is to persuade people. You’re convincing people to pay attention to what you’re telling them and to act on that information. You want people to make a decision or take an action.

Persuading people, influencing people, is a lot harder when you’re not face-to-face. You’re competing against e-mail and instant messaging for people’s attention. You can’t watch their eyes or their body language to tell when you’re going too fast or too slow. People can leave any time they want, so you have to be interesting all throughout.

I’m here because I think virtual communication skills can make a big difference in our company and in our world. To me, remote presentations mean that no matter where you are in the world, you can attend events that used to be limited by travel budgets. Not only that, no matter where you are in the world, you can share your expertise. I really, really care about that. I want you and everyone else to be able to step up, take the stage, and share what you know. I want you to be able to present well so that you can teach and inspire others.

But virtual presentations are tough. Let me share with you some of the things that hold other people back. People say,

  • It’s hard to connect with people over the phone.
  • I want to get through the material, but I don’t know what people think.
  • I always run out of time.
  • I’m afraid of technical problems.
  • I don’t know how much to put into my presentation.
  • I feel like I lose momentum when giving presentations.
  • I feel like my presentations don’t result in anything.

I’ve faced those challenges too. I still do! So here are my seven key tips that can help you not only get better at doing remote presentations, but even enjoying them.

1. Make it real.
2. Interact.
3. Make space for learning.
4. Practice, practice, practice.
5. Keep it simple.
6. Start strong and end strong.
7. Continue the conversation.

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