I would not be surprised to learn that you might be reading this post just because of the title. Just to get it out of the way – right up front – this is not the 7-minutes in heaven that you heard about when you were between the ages of 13 and 16, although I will confess that this is where I got the idea for the title.
Title of what, you ask? I’m getting to it but it requires just a bit of setup in order to make sense.
In my new office (BOKA Powell), there are a handful of groups that are all focused and centered around achieving certain goals by putting programs into place that allow for the personal growth of the participants. These groups are made up of co-workers who have all expressed either an interest in self-improvement or recognize and area of need that aligns with their beliefs and interests. For example, there is a group for Professional Development, Design, Research & Development, Sustainability, Operations, Marketing, and on and on. The official name for these groups is “Matrix of Responsibility”, or “MOR” which is really just a clever way empowering the people who work here to take some responsibility in shaping the type of firm and work environment where they spend 40+ hours each week (i.e. be more, achieve more, grow more)
In the last Design MOR meeting, we decided that as a group we were going to start pinning up more work so that people could actively engage the designers on what they are working on as well as learn a little something about their thought process. Coinciding with this decision, it was also determined that we would put a program in place that would allow the designers in the office to practice their presentation skills … and I decided to name this program “7 Minutes in Heaven“.
Our objective with this presentation focused program is to help people develop their soft skills that are less specialized in a specific role and more aligned with general disposition and personality. Examples of soft skills can include communication, self-motivation, leadership, decisiveness, listening, time management, conflict resolution, and several other interpersonal skills. To that end, we are going to focus on communication skills by putting together a presentation series where participants will be given time to prepare for a non-job-related presentation during each Design MOR meeting. For better or worse, I will work with each individual prior to their presentation to help possibly determine a topic for focus as well as providing feedback both before and after their presentation.
Sound exciting, doesn’t it?!?
The visual delivery method of these presentations will include assembling a digital deck of images that will support the content the presenter is conveying. Further conversations need to be had on which platform we would like to develop (InDesign vs. PowerPoint vs. Keynote vs. others I haven’t thought of yet). The items that we will be our focus on developing from the presentation will include (but not limited to):
- Connecting with the audience (Body Language and Eye Contact)
- Speaking Skills (Diction and Articulation)
- Clarity of Message (Visual and Orally Presented Information)
- Hitting your Mark (length and timing of presentation)
The content presented will not necessarily be architecturally based but rather something that the presenter has an interest in sharing with the group. In the beginning, we will be focusing on how the information is presented rather than the actual material discussed. If you want to talk about the mountain climbing, the 1927 Yankees, or the benefits of speaking Klingon at social events … the world is your oyster.
I haven’t really explained why I titled it “7 Minutes in Heaven” so in case it wasn’t readily apparent, it is because the presentations will be limited to 7 minutes in length. Long enough that it will be obvious if you haven’t prepared, short enough that just about everyone can easily fill that time span. The truth of the matter is that I think more people will struggle trying to present in 7 minutes than something shorter. In addition, the people who will be participating will get to choose their own topic – which should be something they are passionate about – I expect the topics to be amazing!
Since I am heading up the “7 Minutes in Heaven” program, it only makes sense that I go first. One of the people that I sit by made a comment that since I probably have 1,000 presentations already ready to go that I had an unfair advantage. While there is some hyperbole associated with that number, he has a fair point. So instead of talking about something that I might have spoken on previously, I am going to talk about something else – at least something that I haven’t ever presented previously.
If you think about it, my topic should be obvious … and it’s not about podcasting.
That’s right. I will be presenting on smoking barbeque, which is why I spent this last Saturday smoking a brisket (even though the image shown above is pork shoulder) since I needed proper images – which is one of the items we will be talking about – presentation graphics. I am not fluent in Klingon (yet), and the point of this exercise is to have people present on items that they are passionate about and already have enough knowledge that they can focus on HOW they are presenting rather than including the additional burden of WHAT they are presenting, so my task will be to create a narrative about smoking barbeque that successfully conveys my interest and attempting to be entertaining and informative along the way.
Does this sound like a program you would like to participate in? Maybe your office already has a program like this – either way, I would be interested in hearing about it.