Could a checklist be all that is holding you back?

Could a checklist be all that is holding you back?

Category: Presenting

Could a checklist be all that is holding you back?

A friend of mine recently told me why they hate presenting.

They were asked to deliver a short presentation for one of their client’s ‘lunch and learn’ sessions and had been excited to have the opportunity. Expecting a fairly formal session with the team around a boardroom table they arrived, having spent hours preparing, with their laptop containing a PowerPoint presentation ready to plug into the overhead projector.

Unfortunately, they were taken into the tiny staff rest room and confronted by people sitting around the edges of the room on sofas and comfy chairs. To make matters worse there was no projector and the plug socket was a long way from where they could safely put their laptop.

They described the feeling of panic as they realised that on the fly, they would need to completely change what they had planned, and not use the slides they had prepared. The fear of having to change it all nearly overwhelmed them and since then they have consistently refused any speaking requests.

The sad thing is that they really are an expert in their field and an interesting speaker. Had they known the layout, their preparation would have been different and they would have been confronted with exactly what they were expecting.

If only they had created a decent checklist to remind them what to ask during their initial conversation with their client!

If you don’t present often, you can create a single sheet and if you are a frequent presenter, you may need something more in depth. But I guarantee that once you have one, you’ll want to create more!

Just thinking about presenting you could create checklists for:

  • When taking a booking.
  • Things to take.
  • Preparation for a virtual presentation.
  • Post presentation activities.

It needs to be your checklist though. My checklist won’t be right for you. But you don’t need to create it on your own. Brainstorming with a couple of colleagues will make the process less daunting – it’s always easier to remove things you don’t need than face a blank page on your own!

We did some work on checklists recently during one of the Communication Academy meetings and we came up with the following list to help clarify expectations.

  • What is the time slot?
  • How long am I to speak/ does this include Q&A?
  • What type of presentation do they want?
  • Do they expect a PowerPoint presentation?
  • Who is the audience/ demographic?
  • Are there other speakers?
    • Are we all speaking for the same amount of time?
    • What is the order of speakers?
    • What are they speaking about?
    • Can I speak to them in advance to collaborate/ not repeat?
  • What is the dress code?
  • What is the room like?
  • What tech is available?
  • What do I need to provide/ Is it compatible with their tech?
  • Is there a microphone/ what sort?
  • Is there WIFI/mobile signal?
  • Is there parking?
  • Is there an electric car charger?
  • Can I take promotional banners/items/merchandise?

This isn’t our final list and obviously, you don’t need to know about parking or car charging if you travel by public transport and if it’s just you speaking you won’t be asking about the other speakers.

But even at this stage, I know that if my friend had used this checklist to keep them on track when initially taking the brief, they wouldn’t have a fear of presenting now.