Friday, December 16, 2005

Schlemiel lucky b$%tard..

Yesterday I was invited to give a 30 minute speech during an executive dinerconference in the Rosarium restaurant in Amsterdam. I was second in line between a well known CEO and a global executive searcher. Theme of the event was the profile of the next generation executive to come. I was called a few weeks ago if I was available to say some words. After spontaneously having said “Off Course, I would be honoured” I hung up the phone and thought “ %^&* , what have I done?” As most of the executives are at least 20 years older, it became clear that I was expected to share the ideas of the “youth”. This week I thought about the content of the speech and learned that I am actually rather old fashioned in thoughts and don't quite represent a next generation. The first speaker had a staggering slide-show and brought the audience a little gift. I couldn’t find the time nor inspiration to make a nice Powerpoint presentation and ended up standing in the spotlights empty handed and feeling like a butt naked dumb-ass.

I started waffling √† l’improviste on babyboomers, generation x, generation y and the different management style that is needed to approach each group .Very soon the audience started starting raising questions that I returned to other executives in the audience if I didn’t had a clue. Then all of a sudden, the whole audience started arguing and discussing all together and split up in opponents and supporters. The moderator had to do his utmost best to keep the audience under control. After the diner, several executives padded me on the back “Thanks DA, we haven’t had such a great verbal fight in a long time. ” I couldn’t wipe the schlemiel lucky b$%tard grin of my face for hours.


Gary said...

If in doubt, get the room arguing! Good speaking tip DA...

As for the next generation - my 18 year old son (poetry writing, dreadlock hair) could write you some lyrics and a song for your next presentation. But it's hard to beat what you did.

DA said...

I'm gonna keep you up to that Gary :-)

Lisa said...

Nicely done, DA! I will remember your technique for my next speaking gig.

Like the blog, by the way! :)

Lindsay Lobe said...

Thank for the posting and congratulations on a very successful presentation.

I would actively discourage you from using power point presentations, if at all possible! If you’re obliged by custom to use power point then pause at regular intervals, switch off temporarily the computer and ask a few questions to break up your presentation.

I don’t think there is any “Power” in Power Point presentations.

I am forced to use them occasionally but I think they are a distraction and people don’t remember the points made even if there are just a few on each slide.

Much better I think to write a few key points on a white board or paper. Chat for a short time and ask questions, use humour and the more involvement you enlist along the way the more will be remembered.

Your presentation reminds me of a talk I gave many tears ago in the UK, at the time I was CFO for a multi national company and was invited to a conference. At the time I was more interested in the holiday with my wife afterwards, hence my preparation was not comprehensive. As the sole representative for Australia I was expected to give an overview of operations.

When I arrived at the conference I was asked by the Communications Manager what assistance I needed for my video, sound and art display features.
All I had was a map of Australia and few red pins to indicate our operational locations. I felt rather foolish.
Nevertheless I understood shortly before my presentation a few executives were keen to emigrate to Australia, hence I spoke about the expansion available and it turned out to be reasonably interesting to my audience. An informal chat!!

I felt embarrassed at the start but managed a joke (remembered from the night before), which to my relief was greeted with howls of laughter and helped me regain my composure.

The idea of writing poetry or lyrics for a song sounds good !! depending on the venue.

Gary said...

I do presentations in my work too.

- Lindsay, I also usually avoid PowerPoint as a tool and when I do use it, often show a photo rather than words.
- My story: I was speaking to an audience at a large retreat in Saskatchewan. They introduced me and I stepped up on to the stage and sat in the chair they had set up (with a little table and microphone in front of it). When I sat, the back legs of the chair slowly sank through the carpet into a crack in the stage pieces. I toppled over backwards, off the stage and all the way to the hard wood floor behind.

I bumped my head, but after being checked out, got up on stage again to begin my talk. I started off by saying "I hope you enjoyed my opening..." (I had them.)

Pirate said...

some of the best results come from the unplanned. Good job rile the masses and make them think on their own.

DA said...

Lisa..Thx for stopping by!

Lindsay..A map of Australia, a few pins and some well developed lobes should do the job:-) I do believe however that projecting some slides (I use a cartonist many times)can power up your message. I have noticed that youngsters appreciate high volume pictures that almost make a film.

Gary..(lol)..self mockery looks like a good tactic as well. I once did a sound check before the audience arrived. Ate Chinese the night before and had to release some gass quickly. Forgot to turn off my wireless mike and remotely welcomed the audience with my groaning prelude of air leaks.

Pirate..sure thing (in retrospective :-)

Shawn Z. Lea said...

Sounds like you did your job well if you could get that kind of discussion out of an eating crowd - that's the toughest. And it was probably your lack of PowerPoint that helped. We overuse it so much these days I think people nod off immediately the first time they see a chart! ;)

Lesley said...

Everyone loves a good arguement!