3 Reason Most Presentations Suck
3 Reason Most Presentations Suck
Humans vs Robots, a series of Podcasts produced by NPR’s Planet Money Podcast that are nothing short of amazing. The first one I listened to on the way to presentation in Saskatoon, I used one of the stories in my presentation. It was that good!
As the human race progresses, we invent easier ways to do things. The lightbulb put the candle makers out of business. They were outraged. Why wouldn’t people support the candle makers anymore? Doesn’t society have a duty to support the candle makers?!?
The car put horse and carriage drivers out of business. The Better Business Bureau put the snake oil salesmen out of business. Cassette tape put the record stompers out of business, the digital camera put Kodak out of business, Napster put 60% of the record industry out of business, Google put the phone book out of business, what do you think will be next? Are you in that industry? Better yet, are you in the industry that’s going to displace a current market?
In this podcast they lineup three competitions of the epic showdown, HUMANS vs ROBOTS!
Battle 1: Who can fold a towel better?. At MIT there’s a project that has students developing an algorithm that allows a robot to reach into a load of laundry, grab a towel, and fold it in to a prefect square. The students did just that, but it took the robot 18 minutes to complete the task. They also had a young child try folding a towel. It took less than a minute.
Humans 1 Robots 0
Battle 2 was Ellie. Ellie is a computer program that interacts with people. It was made for people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe depression. The theory was that some people just won’t open up to another human, what they’ve been through sometimes it too traumatic to tell someone. But it’s easier to talk to a machine that won’t judge you.
This part in the podcast is worth listening to alone. They have a war vet from the Canadian Military talking about his experience with Ellie, it was a positive one. His story is a moving one, I won’t ruin it for you. Go listen to it!
Human 1 Robots 1
Battle 3; who can write faster a machine or a journalist from the BBC?
Yup, they’ve created a machine to write the news. All the major websites (Reuters, Yahoo news, Huffington Post, etc.) have stories created by WordSmith, a software program that can write news articles. All you need is a companies annual report (the competition in the story was based on Denny’s annual report) and WordSmith puts together an article that isn’t fancy but gets the point across.
The result? WordSmith took two minutes to finish the articles, the journalist took just over seven minutes however the journalist had a little more flare to his article.
The judges had to give it to the robots.
Humans 1 Robots 2
This is a story about a small town in the US that’s slowly being taken over by factories, and no, not traditional manufacturing factories, robotically run factories. This is completely changing the job landscape for many people in North America. It’s scary but you can’t stop technology, some how you have to get a head of the curve.
The future of restaurants will involve this thing called Ziosk. It’s like an iPad for your table where you can order on, get a drink refill, and order dessert. What will happen to waitresses and waiters? They interviewed some of the staff at an Applebee’s that has Ziosk’s. The wait staff hate it, not surprisingly, but it shortens table turnaround (very valuable in casual dining) and increases dessert sales by 30%.
Just think, you may be ordering your next meal from a machine, who will you tip? Do machines need tips? The future will tell.
This podcast is a fictional story of “the last job”. It’s kind of funny, but also somewhat erie. What will we do in the future? We won’t all be working. What will we spend our time doing? It’s an interesting thought.
We all agree that education is broken, its something we all slip into conversation every now and then, but why do we all agree on something and no one does anything about it? Rather silly if you ask me.
In Seth Godin’s words:
In Jim Collins’ Great By Choice he tells the story of the famous discovery of the South Pole. Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott were both vying to be the first explorer to plant their country flag at the South pole. Amundsen did a lot of prep work. He learned about extreme cold, he lived with Eskimos to see how they deal with the cold, he researched the trip, he stashes much more supplies than he needed, just in case something happened along the way.Read More›
If you don’t think so you’ve already given up.Read More›
Pandora’s Promise is the story of Nuclear energy. It’s from the perspective of people that came from the Anti-Nuclear fight. Scientists that were very much against anything to do with Nuclear power kept learning more and more about the industry. They learned so much that they finally changed their stance on it.
True wisdom is taking a topic you have had a strong stance on, and upon the discovery of new facts, change your strong opinion.
People with a vested interest in one side of an argument should rarely be trusted. Therein lies the problem, “where do you find people that you can trust their opinion on such a major issue as Nuclear power?”. This doesn’t just go for the Nuclear industry, this goes for every industry. So when someone completely changes their opinion 180 degrees take note, they should be the ones you hear out.
I had no idea how bad the record industry was until I watched this documentary. It’s eye opening to say the least. Personally I found myself looking up to Jared Leto, the lead singer and mastermind behind the band 30 Seconds to Mars. The struggle he and the band go through. The utter disregard for people and jobs within the recording industry.
This is just one industry that has been displaced. It will happen to more if not every industry. Do you have the courage that Jared Leto had to fight for what was right? What war are you going to fight in your industry? Who is going to be the record execs in your industry that are going to try to wipe you clean off the earth? Ok maybe a little hyperbole, but we haven’t really seen the impact of what the internet will do to every business model. Prepare for war.
This one hits a little closer to home. Teaching at Sask Poly Tech and being the president of the University of Regina Alumni Association I can see the Ivory Tower even in the institutions in Saskatchewan. In whatever you do in the connected world, the juice better be worth the squeeze. Whatever takes up your time, whatever you’re spending money on, it better be worth it.
If the cost of post secondary school out paces the value of what you are capable of once you are out, post secondary school will become obsolete. Sorry let me correct myself, post secondary school as we know it will become obsolete. Last year I took my first online course from the University of France on Coursera. The class was truly a great experience. The professor was engaging (even with a strong French accent), he loved the topic (What managers can learn from Philosophers), and any concept I wanted to go back over I just started the video over again (every week you’re sent 5 videos as your weekly lecture, they’re).
In the future you will learn whatever it is you want to learn from whoever teaches it the best in the world. Do you really want to learn consumer behaviour from a professor in Regina or do you want to learn it from the best marketing professor Stanford has? I don’t know about you but I’ll take the Ivey League schools education thank you. And yes the online education world isn’t perfect but if you are an institution and you aren’t experimenting on how to make it work online, I would be worried.
“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”
On a single day on the Internet there are:
If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? What distinct advantage does your organization create? Why is your mission a noble cause? Ask these questions early and often or else you may find your organization obsolete. To the Not-for-profits that take advantage of the changing online landscape and embrace technology your audience will adore you and you will attract a new smarter customer who (if you do your job right) becomes a loyal evangelist.
There’s a new not-for-profit starting up tomorrow who’s mission is better than yours, who help more people than you and who can do what you do for cheaper. What are you going to do about it? How will you stand out? How will you be remembered? How do you get to the point where people seek YOU out? If you don’t standout you definitely aren’t going to be remembered. You need to create a “Social Object” that people can associate with your cause.
Not-for-profits are really bad at this. Trying to get feedback as an organization is a very forward thinking endeavour. Not-for-profits are not very forward thinking entities(rash generalization but true). Every year they talk about what they did last year and how well it went. No critical breakdown of what happened, no holding people accountable to goals set last year, and no wants to change in the future to get better. It’s that last part that bothers me the most. Because these aren’t profit generating entities it doesn’t make sense to adapt and innovate and strive to lead a market.
The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.
Everything about business is changing at an alarming rate right now, your only hope in survival is ensuring you’re getting feedback from your customers and employees.
Since we were children, feedback has been the only way we learn. Why is that any different for not-for-profits? You need a feedback strategy, and an honest one. If you have a 56 Question Questionnaire providing your feedback for you, just know you’re basing your information on the sick twisted person that would fill out a 56 question Questionnaire.
“Branding” in 2014 is what people say about you behind your back. As a Not-for-profit if your members smile to your face but bad mouth you behind your back that’s a terrible brand. If you have complete board turnover every year that’s bad. IF you have past board members that refuse to be contacted, that’s bad!
Your reputation precedes you. Google your name, what comes up? You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, most people don’t understand they can influence it if they want to. Not-for-profits usually have an advantage here, your reputation is what you’ve done, the people you’ve helped and the impact you’ve created. The RedCross is one of the most recognized “brands” in the world and I would argue it has nothing to do with their messaging (though the logo is pretty ubiquitous), it has everything to do with their impact. Otherwise when you see the infamous Red “+” sign you wouldn’t immediately attribute positive characteristics.
Yes this is stolen from Jim Collin’s book Good To Great. You must face the brutal facts about your organization and marketplace. People don’t have time to care about your organization, no one does. You have to pitch why your not-for-profit matters. I’ve been on a board where we only talked about the good things we did, how great every event was, and never brought up any criticism or created an urgency to get better.
Confront the hard facts, the longer you put off the truth the worse it gets when it finally becomes a reality. Business changes, Not-for-profits change. The only ignorant thing to do is assume we know what we’re doing and not seek out feedback.
I’ve met people who give their time selflessly year in and year out. I look up to these people, they truly understand priorities in life. They put relationships before money. People before work and organizations over themselves. These people are the builders of our communities. You have no idea how much these selfless people have given in time to ensure that people they don’t even know get to enjoy (insert community event, sports team, or club here). From Brownies and Scouts to Hockey and Basketball organizations, boys and girls clubs and sports clubs. The one thing they have in common is people like you and me built them.
The unsung heros are the people who tirelessly volunteer their time to work, coach, organize, plan and do all the things that it takes to make Not-for-profits tick. If you meet someone who’s been a part of a Not-for-profit for a while just assume they’re amazing, you have no idea how much they’ve given.
If you want to find out about someone’s work ethic ask somebody they volunteered with on a board or an organization. Reputations go a long way. I find myself recommending people I’ve volunteered with and coached with a lot. You trust someone on another level when you know they believe in giving their time back to help others.
People love to complain. You have to constantly remind yourself that it’s easy to be a critic and it’s hard to take negative feedback and actually act upon it. On volunteer boards I find this to happen a lot. People LOVE to complain without offering any other solutions. People love to tell you you’re wrong. People love to say “it won’t work”. You have to ignore these people.
Create a culture of proactive feedback, never are you allowed to say “I don’t like it this way!” without providing another plausible way.
Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.
-Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras
Many business folks I’ve met underestimate the power of a vision. But most companies try to explain “everything we’re good at” without “pissing some department” in their mission statement. Effectively making it useless. Einstein said you only truly know a subject when you can explain it to a six year old. that’s my philosophy when it comes to your organizations vision, simply down to a few words that you could explain to a six year old.
Regina Volleyball Club: Lets grow Volleyball
University of Regina Alumni Association: Build Pride
Regina Police Service: Public Servie First
Creative Options Regina: Gentle teaching
In the future the best organizations will have done the most important thing, attracted the best people. To attract the best people you have to have an amazing cause, but not just that, you have to create a work environment that people would seek out. A workplace to love. People will take a pay cut and make other sacrifices just so that they can work with people they like, and people we like are the people we have the most fun with.
Fun can be a competitive advantage.
Think about it, at a board meeting have you ever asked: “how could we make our meetings more fun?”. Most don’t bring that up because they still think doing what they’ve always done is enough to attract younger, smarter, better talent. If your meetings are fun it’s going to be easier to attract better people in the future.
If you encourage your employees to have fun more often they will respect the workplace more, tell people about how great it is to work there, and when shit really does hit the fan, employees you’ve encouraged to have fun will be there for the organization. It’s when we’re at our worst our allies matter the most. Make strong supporters out of your members, encourage them to be themselves and have fun.
that’s why most events aren’t that good. How many presentations, conferences, lecture’s, speeches, keynotes, and guest talks have you been in that have completely bored you to death? It’s become an epidemic, and I hate it.
Start with: why will people remember this? Why will my event be different? How do we get people walking out after the event saying “holy $#!& that was amazing!!”. Maybe therein lies the secret: to create “holy $#!&” moments.
Most events aren’t meant to be remembered, but why not? Don’t you want your next event to go down in history as one of the best _________ of all time?
When planning you must ask how are we going to get people to remember this? If you don’t you’re almost guaranteed that people will do the opposite.
Why is it so rare that employees look up to their boss? Why is it that most senior leadership are referred as more of the senior part and not so much the latter? How come more people don’t look up to the leader of the organization? Why is it so rare to find a visionary, humble, head of an organization?
In the future we’ll look up to leaders who understand and act upon these 3 must do’s.
If your staff don’t know where you’re going it’s going to be very difficult to follow you. If your vision isn’t simple most people won’t get it. If your purpose can’t be summed up in a short phrase, you probably haven’t drilled deep enough. If everyone on the board is comfortable with the simple vision, it’s not provocative enough. If you let a committee come up your purpose it isn’t going to get far. If you think the executive suite are the only ones who can come up with your purpose, you’re wrong. Purpose should be shared just as much with the top row and the front line employees. More often than not front line employees have a better grasp on what the company “actually” does than the executive row.
Business strategy that’s written by mbas is business strategy for mbas. Real people want simplicity, they want to know you care and they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Don’t just say you care about people, that’s cliche and every company says they care about their people, very few actually show it.
You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.
You show people you care with your actions and how you spend your time and your money. Every company says they care about their people but how many create a bottom up feedback system? How many leaders actually have an open door policy? How many leaders would actually encourage employees to speak up when they disagree with a decision?
You show employees or members that you care when you listen to them, when you actively seek their feedback, when you truly want them to be a part of the decision making. If you truly do care about the people you work with, you’ll try to help them. When employees feel their voice will be heard and that they can make a difference, it’s like they’re working with a super power.
Anything becomes possible when the people we look up to empower us to achieve more than we are capable of.
Leadership is service. Leaders work harder than everyone else, they rarely take credit and they put more fires out than anyone else. Leadership isn’t glamorous, it’s hard work.
Having people look up to you, rely on you, being a part of your team, is a small reward. The larger reward in this situation is watching the people under grow into a better leader, manager, and team player than you ever could be. Leadership is the humble act of always putting others first. When you find you’ve groomed a candidate that people look up to, are inspired by and that works harder than you do, you know you’ve done your job.
The goal of leadership is not to be indispensable, it’s quite the opposite. The goal of leadership is the day you don’t show up, everyone knows exactly what to do and the sustaining work to keep the organization is done.
Leadership is the highest form of service. Never forget that.