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  Presentation Success Tips
Written by Drew Stevens PhD   


One of the most daunting daily tasks for many business professionals is attending and facilitating a meeting. Statistics show that 66% of meetings fail for two major reasons a lack of focus and lack of structure. Both issues derive from the lack of strategy. Meetings are tactical and as such defensive. More importantly some meeting are wasteful and boring. However, there are several rules for operating an effective meeting.

1.    Objective – Ensure a successful meeting by developing a meeting objective. The facilitator of the meeting needs to answer three questions:
a.    Who do I require at the meeting?
b.    Why do I need them?
c.    What decisions do I need them for?
2.    Structure – There is a basic premise for a conducive meeting, make them succinct. Today’s meetings are long. Research in adult learning and employee productivity suggests meeting brevity. A functional meeting should last no longer than 75 minutes. Using tight timelines and leaving little margin for tangential conversation a good meeting will operate correctly.
3.    Rules of Structure – The most efficient meetings have a beginning, a middle and an end; similar to a good story. The facilitator must open the meeting and quickly review logistics. Review the agenda and swiftly move to the first topic. End the meeting with a summary and any required action steps.
4.    Follow the 3- S Rule – Allow your meeting to be Simple, Sequential and Specific. It is best to separate data categorically or by topic. Participants loathe large amounts of data and placing it into smaller bites enables better recall. Use a simple technique of three topics per meeting and three bullets per topic.
5.    Issue Avoidance – The best communication technique is to product an agenda for all participants 24 to 48 hours in advance. Preliminary information enables participants the ability to prepare for discussion, eliminate waste and provides better interaction. One final word here, producing an agenda denotes that no other issues will arise. 82 % of meetings contain a “surprise moment” when information appears unrevealed to participants. Avoid the landmines and enable all to prepare.
6.    Time Rules – The largest issues with meetings, they languish. The simple and sound rule- begins on time and end on time. Your participants honor the time code especially in today’s productive and time conscious world.
7.    Tools – During a recent interview of 1000 clients 93% utilize some form of projection to display data. The greatest culprit – PowerPoint. During a recent presentation in Quito Ecuador, one of the presenters appeared very anxious during the presentation. Upon completion (which ended 15 minutes over his time limit) he disclaimed that he realized his remaining time and was rushing to get through all 55 slides! Microsoft will not admit defeat but PowerPoint is dead! Speak TO participants and NOT AT them. For significant information, use handouts and engage in discussion. Participants learn more from interaction then watching lengthy slide shows and the back of a colleague’s head.
8.    Avoid Distractions – Request participants to avoid the use of electronic equipment. Too many people play distract others, request all equipment not function so the meeting can begin and end on time.
9.    Scheduling Factors - Avoid scheduling meetings first thing in the morning, the last afternoon of the workweek, or the last hour of any workday. It is also helpful to avoid meetings just before and just after lunch. In addition, do not schedule a meeting unless all participant required can attend. It is difficult to please all but those vital participants must attend.
10.    Action and Follow Through – Upon completion ensure success with meeting notes, and action steps. Use these action steps as follow up for the next required meeting.

2008. Drew J. Stevens Ph.D. All rights reserved.