Workshop Presentation Lessons

Power Moves Conference

Workshop Presentation Lessons

I presented 3 workshop training sessions for an inspiring group of New Zealand business founders as part of a 2-day event last weekend. I encourage my clients to conduct an “After Action Review” at the conclusion of each project, so in the interests of eating my own dog food, here are my workshop presentation lessons:

Note: The organization has a strict confidentiality code whereby information and stories discussed in the event must not be shared with anyone outside the event. In that spirit, what I choose to share here are just my personal reflections on my performance as a presenter.

What was the Goal?

  • Deliver practical take-home value for the business leaders in attendance
  • Build relationships and learn from others

What actually happened?

  • I delivered 4.5 hours of content in total and felt physically spent by the end of the weekend, but was thrilled with the feedback I received from founders about the lessons they took away, and I can’t wait to deliver more live workshops

What went well?

  • My wife Bianca built my slide deck. Her primary business is video presentation coaching and video production, but she also has the creative design chops to really make a slide deck sing! She also gave me great feedback afterward on how to dial in my “stage presence”.  Some of it is tough to hear, but she helps me to grow and develop
  • “I” not “You”. I learned this tip from Bianca (via Alex Hormozi) a few weeks back and made sure to incorporate it into my approach and can verify that it resonates well. Talking about “How I do this” (a truth that can’t be disputed) is a superior teaching approach to saying, “You should do this” (people resist being told what to do). 
  • With that concept in mind, I prefaced my workshops with words along the lines of, “Here are some tools and principles that I use, that work well for me and my clients”, followed by, “There will be breakout sessions to discuss these principles, where you can also share the tools and principles that work for you – so we can all learn from each other”. (They may not realize it, but I probably learn as much from my audience as they do from me!)
  • I saw another presenter using the “You should do this” approach and watched the audience recoil and put their defensive barriers up. I saw a similar audience response when a presenter relied too heavily on research. The research might suggest an approach, but that does not mean it is the only approach that works 

What could have gone better?

  • I returned to New Zealand in 2020 after spending 12 years living in North America, and while I have delivered many webinars and virtual workshops since then, I haven’t presented before a live audience in 4 years (thanks Covid), so I was nervous and rusty in the beginning. By the time I delivered my 3rd workshop of the weekend I was starting to get my mojo back, but I realized that live speaking is a perishable skill (for me), and I need to “get more reps in” to keep honing this skill
  • The military has a saying, “One is none. Two is one”. Always have a backup option. My slideshow clicker died 5 minutes before my first presentation (I tested it and it worked fine the day prior). Lesson = bring 2 clickers. In the future, I also plan to carry a backup version of my presentation on a memory stick just in case my laptop fails
  • Knocked over a glass of water on stage. Doh! Use a “sippy cup” in the future (a takeaway coffee cup with a lid)
  • Prepared far too much content (only delivered about 20% of what I prepared), but much like the military maxim above, my approach was “Better to have and not need vs, need and not have”. On the plus side, I have plenty of surplus content that can be used for future workshops
  • The event reaffirmed the difference between delivering a workshop (interactive, 2-way communication) vs. a pure presentation (education, 1-way communication) and how much extra time I need to factor in for the interactive breakout discussions 
  • An audience member suggested I use more personal examples e.g. how a client used a principle and what the benefit was (without breaching client confidentiality).  Good idea!
  • Another suggested that it would be helpful if I summarized quotes from thought leaders in my own words e.g. “Here’s how I interpret this quote from…” Another good idea!

Next Steps?

Fortunately, I have another full-day workshop coming up for an industry’s national conference (where I will be presenting for the full day!) and will be able to incorporate many of these lessons and get some more repetitions in!

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Until next time…
Stephen