Paired Presentations

May 15, 2011

Often when people talk about public speaking, they are typically referring to an individual speaker. You don’t see much advice for people who present in pairs. When it works out, it is a beautiful thing where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. When it fails, usually one speaker or the other takes the brunt of the damage. Here are some things that I recommend doing to insure a paired speaking engagement is successful:

  1. Keep it simple and let each speaker own a portion of the presentation on his or her own. This avoids a situation where one person does all the talking and the other just chimes in from time to time. I feel that both speakers need to be perceived by the audience as experts in their own right. It doesn’t even have to be a large section of the presentation that you own – just some section that is all yours. I feel like this works well with people who are new to presenting – I can include them for whatever period they feel most comfortable. The anti-pattern here is where a second speaker in a pair only chimes in from time to time. This leaves them only offering the occasional comment. This can leave a perception of that second person as interrupting the first speaker.
  2. Rehearse together – I know it’s hard to do, but you will both find weak areas in each other’s material. When I’m working on speaking material, I tend to get these ideas that I think are totally brilliant. We’re talking about genius stuff here. I can’t tell you how often I have shared this brilliant material with my partner only to discover that it falls completely flat. It must be an echo chamber in my skull (it is empty anyhow). Better to have a lame idea shot down by my partner than some poor unsuspecting audience. Often, the idea just needs refinement.
  3. The 3 secrets to a good presentation with a partner? Support. Support. Support. Focus on the other person in your presentation. If they rock, then you both are very likely going to look brilliant. If they suck, you haven’t got a chance. Be there to encourage them when the practice doesn’t go well. Be there to provide ideas and alternatives. Be patient when they are struggling and time is running short. Make them feel welcome and like a key contributor.
  4. Have a victory celebration afterward! It’s not often that I get to share a presentation with someone. Two people qualify as a party in my book, so go for it! Celebrate the accomplishment! It’s a big deal when two people can collaborate together successfully to provide a rich experience for an audience. Not many people can do it well.

I’m sure there is a lot of good advice for people who are co-presenting and I’d love to hear it. These are just a few things that I’ve learned by trial and error (a lot of the latter).


XP2011 – Taking Silo Busting to Madrid

May 4, 2011

Lourdes Vidueira and I have taken the “Silo Busting” presentation that I’ve been doing for about the last two years and we have rather dramatically expanded it into a full 4 hour tutorial session for XP2011. A tremendous amount of research has gone into building this material and I have to say that I’m very excited with what we have put together. Managing conflicts between organizational silos is the very definition of a wicked problem that is rife with complexity (and usually comes with a healthy dollop of chaos on top). These sorts of problems require a multi-disciplinary approach in order to effectively deal with them. Some of those disciplines include:

  • Sociology (in-group & out-group formation)
  • Psychology (hierarchies, biases & discrimination, personality, group formation)
  • Conflict management (conflict models, personality)
  • Leadership (personality, hierarchy, vision)
  • Organizational Development (vision, organizational structure)

And I’m sure there are even more. Many of these domains overlap and reinforce the other. Like I’ve mentioned, I’m pretty tickled with what we have come up with and I’m looking forward to sharing it with a group of really motivated people. Of course the setting for the conference, Madrid, is going to be fabulous. It looks like there are a lot of great sessions in the program and I will be sure to keep folks posted on the stuff that I attend.

If you are going to be attending, make sure to check out the Silo Busting tutorial on Friday – We’re hoping to make it one of the highlights of the conference!


I’ll be speaking at Agile Roots 2009!

May 5, 2009


agilerootsspeaker

I’ll be giving a tutorial, “Impediment Hunting” at Agile Roots 2009! This is a fantastic tutorial and I’m really excited to have been selected as a presenter for this conference. They have done a great job lining up some terrific speakers for this conference – hey, they got me, right? But in all seriousness, I’m really looking forward to seeing this group of speakers in action.