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SWaynePow'Rful Presentations Newsletter
August 2008 - Presentation Lessons from a target shooter
Pow'Rful Presentations is a relatively monthly investigation of ideas, strategies and techniques to assist PowerPoint® Presenters communicate clearly with audiences.
In my effort to please the widest range of readers and knowing that adult learners acquire new skills in different ways, you may find typographical or grammatical errors in this newsletter. No need to point these out to me. Some readers learn best by analyzing text for errors. 
Also, depending on your background, and my South African origins, you may find some of my spelling and grammar to be, well let us just say "imaginative".
© Wayne Botha 2008
Pull the trigger.
Yesterday I was out on the shooting range with a good friend. We shot rifles in .22 Magnum, 223 Remington (with his delightful Colt AR) and 357 Magnum calibers. The sun shone down while a gentle breeze stirred the warm air.  It was perfect weather, perfect companionship and we enjoyed a truly pleasurable day.

What does this have to do with you making presentations? What value do you get from my day on the shooting range? Read on and I will explain, I promise.

Back in South Africa, I was an active member of a full-bore, high power target rifle shooting club. The objective of full-bore target shooting is to consistently shoot accurately at long ranges that vary from 300 yards to 1000 meters. Many factors affect your ability to shoot accurately at these ranges, including the wind, your ammunition, your rifle and other equipment.

On a Saturday morning, with the African sun showing no mercy, my weathered instructor told me in his gruff voice "Wayne, you have to learn to pull the trigger". I thought he meant that there exists a secret technique to pulling the trigger, but this is not what he meant at all. I came to learn that once a target is in sight, you only have about 2 seconds of opportunity to pull the trigger and take the shot before fatigue sets in or the wind changes.
In other words, you cannot take aim for an extended period before you pull the trigger. When the time is almost right you must pull the trigger and live with the consequences. To continue aiming after you should have pulled the trigger is dysfunctional and your results show that you missed the window of opportunity.

When you are preparing for your presentations, you also have to learn to pull the trigger. How do you do this so that you take aim, pull the trigger and deliver your presentation?

Firstly, when you prepare your presentation, define what the audience needs to know about the message that you are communicating. Then deliver that information and only that information. Do not try to communicate all the information that you have about this topic. See my blog posting about this. Take aim at what you want to communicate, and pull the trigger.

Secondly, when you are creating handouts for your audience and crafting your slide show, remember that "Done is better than perfect". You will quickly get to the point where your handouts are very good, your slides are acceptable and your speech structure is good. Now you need to be ready to pull the trigger. If you continue to improve your presentation at this point, you are in danger of taking aim for too long and starting to waste valuable time. When your presentation handouts, slides and speech are nearly ready for delivery, then you are probably ready to move on.

Thirdly, while you are getting ready to go on stage before the presentation, go through your normal warm-up routine. Walk around to warm up your muscles and release some tension. Warm up your voice by talking to people in your audience and doing vocal warm-up exercises. Then pull the trigger and go in front of your audience to deliver your message. I have heard presenters use phrases to remind themselves that it is time for the delivery, such as "Here I go, and let the chips fall where they may" and "It's show time baby".

Lastly, while you are in front of your audience presenting your message, keep on pulling the trigger. Go ahead with your presentation. If you forget a story or don't make a point as strongly as you wanted to, then don't agonize over it. Keep going. 
The advice from my weathered instructor under the brutal South African sun proved valuable to other members of the target shooting club as well. The successful target shooters commented how they each learned to take aim, pull the trigger and fire. Time and time again, my instructor would point out the less successful shooters taking aim, adjusting the aim, taking aim, adjusting the aim, pulling the trigger, firing and often missing the target.

The results in our shooting competitions proved that you have a higher success rate when you learn to pull the trigger when the short window of opportunity opens, not as the window of opportunity is closing.
Take the lesson from a shooting range in Pretoria, South Africa into your presentation: Take aim at getting your message across to your audience, pull the trigger when you define your message, as you prepare, and while you deliver your message.
I believe that you will be far more successful than the presenters who take aim, adjust aim, take aim, adjust aim, pull the trigger and miss the target. 
PS. Now it is time to pull the trigger on this newsletter and hit "send".
Make more of your time
Do you have too much to do and not enough time to do it? Well then, here are time management techniques that I use and which may be helpful to you.
1. Forget "To Do" lists. Make a list of outcomes that must be achieved. Call it your "Must get done" list. Things that must get done don't always have to be done by you. And perhaps they don't have to be done to the degree of perfection that you envisioned. When you change the focus to the desired outcome instead of the inputs, then you open up new possible paths to reach the outcomes. When you have a "Must get done" list, you can distinguish between what you wanted "To Do", and the results that must be achieved. You will find your "Must get done" list requires less of your time than your "To Do" list.

2. Work on only one task at a time, and see it through to completion before starting your next task. On the back of a business card, write down the "must get done" item that you are working on next. Put this business card in front of you, on your desk or computer monitor. Do not work on any other major task until you have finished this "must get done" item. If you are interrupted, then get back to working on the "must get done" item until it is finished. Don't flit like a butterfly from task to task. Stick with one "must get done" item at a time.
3. Don't make work for yourself. Did I hear you ask "Huh? Who would make work for themselves?". When you receive a bill, pay it promptly. When you get junk mail, throw it out. File your bank statements when you receive them. Don't let your paper mail, newspapers and magazines pile up into a "will review this someday when I get around to it". You already have enough work. Process your mail as soon as the mailman delivers it so that you are ready to apply your time to new opportunities. 

4. Keep your email inbox empty. That's right. You can keep your email inbox empty. Don't tell me "But Wayne you don't understand, I am so busy", because I am also busy. I also get over a hundred emails a day. As soon as you realize the value and possibility of keeping your email inbox empty, you will become more discerning about your inbox. You will find yourself asking people to not copy you on every email in the universe. The value to you is that a clean inbox allows you to focus on your "Must get done" list with fewer distractions that come with a cluttered inbox. If you have emails in your inbox that you need to follow up on later, put these emails into a separate folder, but make sure that your goal is to keep your inbox clean.
I trust that these techniques will help you to get more done in the same, few 24 hours that each one of us have, every day.

My embarrassing moment of the week.
Fortunately, I was alone for this event. Sometimes I am not so lucky!
When I joined the Project Management Institute in 2005, and every year since when I renew my membership, I decline involvement in any Special Interest Group. For reasons unknown to me, I did not think to check off the box and join a Special Interest Group.
When I renewed my membership this year, I joined the Information Systems Special Interest Group (with an uninspiring acronym of PMI-ISSIG). Well, lo and behold, the PMI-ISSIG is a treasure trove of value-laden recorded webinars and similar goodies.
I just watched a fabulous presentation by Jim DiPiante who used his soccer coaching experience to explain the importance of leadership to project managers.
After viewing Jim's webinar, I can only shake my head at my ignorance for these past years. I don't know why I did not join the PMI-ISSIG in prior years, and can only marvel at my own stupidity for not thinking to join up sooner.
Oh well!! Life goes on. The message you can get from this event is to be more aware of your routine tasks, and see if you are habitually missing something which you can take advantage of in the coming years that you did not pay attention to in the past.   
Do you need a speaker for your conference? Contact me and let's discuss if I am the right speaker for your event.

Email me with any questions that you have about presentations and I will attempt to address them in a future newsletter.

More next time!

Wayne Botha


Copyright 2017 Wayne Botha Email Wayne Cell: 860.214.4897