Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Delivering a better presentation / training course. No. 6. Be prepared!

This is the sixth in a series of posts where I plan to discuss my ideas, tips and best practices for delivering a great presentation / training course. Be prepared!

Those two words could fill a book. I can already visualise several future posts that expand on that theme so I will keep the focus very narrow here.

When I say "Be prepared!", I am not referring to preparing your material and understanding the course and exercises. I'll talk about that another time. I am actually referring to the fundamentals.

How often have you started a lesson/presentation and then reached for a board marker and not been able to find one or those that you do find on the desk are so weak that they are not worth using?

Quite often. Right?

Hang on. You know you are going to need a board marker to write on the board with because you do so every lesson. You have just acknowledged (I saw you nodding) that you often pick up a pen to write with only to find that it has run out. So why do you keep waiting until you have started the lesson with a room full of attentive faces staring at you to discover that the pen has run out?

Talk about getting off to a bad start and creating the wrong impression?

One of the first things I do when I walk into the room is locate all of the board markers. The second thing I do is test each one placing the defective ones to one side. The third thing I do is throw the defective ones into the bin. That way, I am not likely to keep picking up a dud throughout the lesson. Nor will the next trainer have to go through the same pantomime.

Why is it that no one before me has done the same? Are we afraid to throw away markers? Is it wasteful? They are no longer fit for purpose!

Incidentally the second step is particularly useful for identifying rogue flip chart (permanent) markers that have found their way into the pile of dry wipe markers. Hands up those of you who have picked up a random marker and drawn a diagram on the whiteboard only to realise a minute later (when you try and wipe it away) that you used a permanent marker? Nightmare!

I do not throw these away. I simply put them away in a drawer.

Now the board markers here are a metaphor for all those things that always happen that you need to deal with and react to.

But even metaphors need to work.

Incidentally, I keep a spare board marker in my laptop case because I never know if the Training Centre Administrator - TCA (good luck finding one of those when delivering an on-site course) will be available to point me to the stationary cupboard or indeed if they will actually have any spare board markers. Actually they will probably have plenty of Green markers but who would want to use Green?

So let's set aside the board markers metaphor and look at a checklist of those basic items that I check before I start the day:

Board markers.

Projector remote control. Where is projector remote control? Does it work? Are the batteries flat/missing (they often are). (I always carry a pair of AAA in my laptop case for this reason).

Air conditioning. Where is air conditioning control? Does it work? Is it currently set to 18 degrees? (they often are).

Computers. Power them up. Are there any obvious errors? Any mice or keyboards missing?

Chairs. Are there enough? Are any positioned at ridiculous angles or heights? You do not want delegates fiddling with the levers whilst you are trying to do the introductions.

Software. Do the delegate computers have the correct software and  files installed?

Courseware. Has the correct courseware been delivered?

Kitchen. Does  the venue have a kettle, tea bags, milk and mug? Very important this one. I don't do vending machines.


This is getting to be quite a list. That is why I always allow at least an hour on the first day of the course to get in early and make sure that all of these items have been checked off.

These are all things that can be easily fixed if broken before the delegates come in. However, they become very difficult to deal with if you only discover them once you have started the course.

The missing software and courseware items are worth another post and so I will expand on them another time.

Hope you had a great Jubilee!

See you soon

Phil Stirpé
"I don't do average!"


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